Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is a condition in which one or both of the kidneys can no longer work on their own. This condition is also called renal failure. Treatments for the kidney failure can be dialysis and the other is kidney transplant.

Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys suddenly become unable to filter waste products from the blood. When kidneys lose their ability to filter, dangerous levels of waste can accumulate, and the chemical makeup of blood can be out of balance.

Acute kidney failure -- also called acute renal failure or acute kidney injury -- develops rapidly, usually in a few days. Acute renal failure is most common in people who are already hospitalized, especially in those seriously ill who require intensive care.

Acute renal failure can be fatal and requires intensive treatment. However, acute renal failure can be reversible. If you are in otherwise good health, you may recover normal or near-normal kidney function.


Signs and symptoms of acute kidney failure may include:

  • Decreased urine output, although sometimes urine output remains normal
  • fluid retention, which causes swelling in your feet, ankles, or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Seizures or coma in severe cases

Sometimes acute kidney failure has no signs or symptoms and is diagnosed through laboratory tests done for another cause. If you have any of the signs or symptoms of acute kidney failure then do not waste time immediately consult to the doctor for the treatment.


Acute kidney failure can occur when:

  • you have a condition that slows blood flow to your kidneys
  • you experience direct damage to your kidneys
  • The urinary drainage ducts (ureters) of your kidneys are blocked and waste cannot exit your body through your urine

Impaired Blood Flow To The Kidneys

Diseases and conditions that may slow blood flow to the kidneys and lead to kidney injury include:

  • Blood or fluid loss
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Infection
  • Liver failure
  • Use of aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) or related drugs
  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Severe burns
  • Severe dehydration

Damage To The Kidneys

These diseases, conditions, and agents can damage the kidneys and lead to acute kidney failure:

  • Blood clots in the veins and arteries in and around the kidneys
  • Cholesterol deposits that block blood flow to the kidneys
  • glomerulonephritis (glomerulonephritis (glo-mer-yoo-LOE-nuh-fry-tis), inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys (glomeruli)
  • hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that results in the premature destruction of red blood cells
  • Infections, such as the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • Lupus, an immune system disorder that causes glomerulonephritis
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, and dye-like drugs used during imaging tests
  • scleroderma, a group of rare diseases affecting the skin and connective tissues
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disorder
  • Toxins such as alcohol, heavy metals and cocaine
  • Muscle tissue breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) that leads to kidney damage due to toxins from the destruction of muscle tissue
  • rupture of tumor cells (tumor lysis syndrome), which leads to the release of toxins that can cause kidney injury

Urine Blockage In The Kidneys

Diseases and conditions that block the passage of the urine to come out of the body (urinary blockage) and can cause acute kidney injury:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Blood clots in the urinary tract
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Kidney stones
  • Nerve damage involving the nerves that control the bladder
  • Prostate cancer

Risk Factors

Acute renal failure almost always occurs in relation to another medical condition or event. Conditions that increase the risk of acute kidney failure include:

  • Being hospitalized, especially for a serious condition that requires intensive care
  • Advanced age
  • Blockages in the blood vessels in your arms or legs (peripheral artery disease)
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Certain cancers and their treatments


Potential complications of acute kidney failure include:

Fluid Buildup- Acute kidney failure may lead to a buildup of fluid in your lungs, which can cause shortness of breath.

Chest Pain- If the lining that covers your heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed, you may experience chest pain.

Muscle Weakness- When your body's fluids and electrolytes — your body's blood chemistry — are out of balance, muscle weakness can result.

Permanent Kidney Damage- Occasionally, acute kidney failure causes permanent loss of kidney function, or end-stage renal disease. People with end-stage renal disease require either permanent dialysis — a mechanical filtration process used to remove toxins and wastes from the body — or a kidney transplant to survive.

Death- Acute kidney failure can lead to loss of kidney function and, ultimately, death.


It is often difficult to predict or prevent acute renal failure. But you can reduce your risk by taking care of your kidneys. 

Pay attention to labels when taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications- Follow directions for OTC pain medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others). Taking too much of these drugs can increase your risk of kidney injury. This is especially true if you already have kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Work with your doctor to manage kidney and other chronic conditions- If you have kidney disease or another condition that increases your risk of acute kidney failure, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, stay on track with treatment goals and your doctor's recommendations to manage your condition. Follow.

Make a healthy lifestyle a priority- To be active; Eat a sensible, balanced diet; And consume alcohol in moderation - if at all.

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