What is kidney failure?
Have you been asking the question what does kidney failure mean? Kidney failure is when one or both kidneys can no longer function properly on their own. The failure of a kidney can sometimes be temporary and occur rapidly. Sometimes, it is a chronic condition that can slowly worsen over a long period of time. There is no doubt that kidney failure is a serious condition. But treatments like dialysis and kidney transplants help many people with limited kidney function continue to live full lives. What do the kidneys do? The kidneys perform several functions, the most significant being to help the body eliminate toxins. By excreting urine, your kidneys filter your blood and remove waste from your body. These small, bean-shaped organs are about the size of a fist and bean-shaped are located under the sternum, against the back. Most people have two functioning kidneys, but as long as at least one is functioning properly, people can live well.
When your kidneys aren’t working efficiently, waste builds up in your body. If this happens, you may feel sick. In severe cases, kidney failure can be life-threatening. However, many people can cope with kidney failure with the right treatment.
Types of kidney failure
Kidney failure can be classified into five types:
- Acute prerenal kidney failure. Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop working properly. Insufficient blood flow to the kidneys can cause acute renal failure in the prerenal stage. When the kidneys do not receive enough blood flow, they cannot filter toxins from the blood. Once the cause of reduced blood flow is identified, this type of kidney failure can usually be treated.
- Acute intrinsic renal failure. Endogenous acute renal failure can occur as a result of direct injury to the kidneys, such as personal injury or an accident. Other causes include hypoxic toxin overload and renal ischemia. Ischemia can be caused by acute bleeding, shock, renal vascular obstruction, and glomerulonephritis, a disease in which the small blood vessels in the kidney become inflamed.
- Chronic prerenal kidney failure. If your kidneys do not receive enough blood for a long time, they begin to shrink and lose their ability to work.
- Chronic intrinsic kidney failure. This occurs when there is long-term kidney damage due to intrinsic kidney disease. Nephrogenic disease develops as a result of direct injury to the kidneys, such as severe bleeding or lack of oxygen.
- Chronic post-renal kidney failure. Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract can prevent urination.
Symptoms and causes
What causes kidney failure?
A number of factors contribute to kidney failure, including diabetes and high blood pressure. But sometimes, due to unforeseen reasons, kidney failure occurs quickly. If the kidneys suddenly lose function (within hours or days), this is called acute kidney failure (or acute kidney injury). It is usually temporary kidney failure.
Acute kidney failure is caused mainly by:
- Autoimmune kidney disease
- Certain medicines
- Severe dehydration
- Urinary tract obstruction
- Systemic diseases such as heart disease or liver disease that are uncontrolled
Kidney failure doesn’t usually happen overnight. Chronic kidney disease refers to a group of medical conditions that affect your kidney function over time. Leaving chronic kidney disease untreated can cause kidney failure.
Chronic kidney disease is caused mainly by:
- Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels. Persistently high blood sugar levels can damage the body’s organs, including the kidneys. High blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) is the passage of blood through the body’s blood vessels with more force. Over time, untreated high blood pressure can damage kidney tissue. Chronic kidney disease can be caused by a variety of other factors, such as:
- Polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease in which cysts (fluid-filled sacs) grow in the kidneys. Glomerular diseases, such as glomerulonephritis, affect the kidneys’ ability to filter waste. Multiple systemic autoimmune diseases, like lupus can also cause kidney failure
What are the symptoms of kidney failure?
There are few or no symptoms of kidney disease in the early stages. You should note that chronic kidney disease can damage your kidneys even if you are feeling well.
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure can be different for different people. The following signs may indicate that your kidneys are not working properly:
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- upset stomach or vomiting
- confusion or difficulty concentrating
- wrists and ankles swell
- visit the toilet more often
- muscle spasms (muscle cramps)
- dry or itchy skin
- Loss of appetite or food with a metallic taste
Diagnosis and examination
How is kidney failure diagnosed?
A variety of tests are used by doctors to determine whether a patient is suffering from kidney failure and to measure kidney function. If your doctor suspects that you may be at risk of kidney failure, he may recommend:
- A blood test that can show the kidneys’ ability to remove waste products from the blood.
- Advanced imaging that can show abnormalities and obstructions in the kidneys.
- A urinalysis that measures the amount of urine in the urine or specific substances in the urine, such as protein or blood.
Management and treatment
How is kidney failure treated?
Treatment for kidney failure depends on the cause and extent of the problem. Treating your chronic disease can slow the progression of kidney disease. If your kidneys gradually begin to lose function, your doctor may use one or more methods to track your health. By closely monitoring you, your doctor can help you prolong the life of your kidneys. In order to assess your kidney function, your doctor can use the following parameters:
- Regular blood tests
- Blood pressure control
Patients with kidney failure require treatment to survive because the kidneys play such an integral role in the body. The main methods of treating kidney failure are:
Dialysis: This treatment helps the body filter the blood (to do the work that the kidneys can no longer do). During haemodialysis, a machine regularly washes your blood for you. People often receive this treatment for kidney failure in a hospital or dialysis clinic 3 or 4 days a week.
Peritoneal dialysis uses dialysis solution and a catheter to clean the blood in a slightly different way. Sometimes people can receive treatment at home.
Kidney transplant: A kidney transplant involves putting in a healthy kidney to replace your damaged one. This healthy kidney, called a donor organ, can come from a deceased donor or a living donor, perhaps a friend or family member.
Can kidney failure be prevented?
People can have healthy kidneys. Although kidney failure from chronic kidney disease cannot be prevented, there are many things you can do to help maintain your current kidney function. Healthy habits and routines can slow the rate at which your kidneys lose function. If you have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure:
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for monitoring kidney function.
- Controlling your blood sugar is essential for diabetics.
- Keep your blood pressure within normal limits. Avoid smoking.
- Eat foods low in protein and sodium and make healthy dietary choices.
When should I call the doctor?
Nephrologists have special training in the evaluation and treatment of the kidneys. You may benefit from an expert opinion from a kidney specialist if:
You have trouble keeping your blood pressure within normal limits, even with medication.
Your blood sugar fluctuates a lot (up and down).