What is Acute Kidney Failure?
Acute kidney failure is a condition when your kidneys are suddenly unable to perform their functions, which is to filter waste products from your blood. This condition causes the buildup of toxins and waste products in the blood, as well as imbalance body fluid.
Acute kidney failure can develop rapidly in less than a few days. This condition generally occurs in people who are already hospitalized, particularly in people who are critically ill and need intensive care.
Acute kidney failure can be fatal, as it can also affect other organs such as your brain, heart and lungs. However, acute kidney failure may be reversible. if you are in good health, you may be able to restore your kidney function to normal or near-normal.
Causes of Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure can occur if you have certain health conditions that slow blood flow to your kidneys, experience direct damage to your kidneys, or have blocked drainage tubes (ureters) and waste cannot be excreted through your urine.
The following are some causes of acute kidney failure that you need to be aware of:
Impaired Blood Flow to the Kidneys
Conditions that can slow blood flow to the kidneys include:
- Liver failure.
- Severe dehydration.
- Heart disease.
- Heart attack.
- Severe burns.
- Blood or fluid loss
- Anaphylaxis or severe allergic shock reactions.
- Use of aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and related drugs.
Damage to the Kidneys
Conditions that can cause kidney damage include:
- Toxins, such as alcohol and cocaine.
- Infections, including the COVID-19 virus infection.
- Tumor lysis syndrome or tumor cell damage.
- Blood clots in the veins and around the kidneys.
- Glomerulonephritis or glomerular inflammation.
- Rhabdomyolysis, damage to skeletal muscle tissue.
- Uremic hemolytic syndrome (SHU), damage to red blood cells.
- Cholesterol buildup that blocks blood flow in the kidneys.
- Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation.
- Medications, such as chemotherapy medications, antibiotics, and imaging tests.
- Scleroderma, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks connective tissue.
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a blood disorder that causes blood to clot rapidly.
Urine Blockage in the Kidneys
Conditions that can cause urinary obstructions include:
- Kidney stones.
- Prostate cancer.
- Cervical cancer.
- Colon cancer.
- Enlarged prostate.
- Bladder cancer.
- Blood clots in the urinary tract.
- Nerve damage involving the nerves that control the bladder.
When to See a Doctor for Acute Kidney Failure
If you have symptoms of acute kidney failure, your nephrologist (kidney specialist doctor) may recommend a number of tests to make an accurate diagnosis. These tests may include:
- Blood tests, to determine the levels of creatinine and urea nitrogen to assess the kidney function.
- Imaging tests, such as ultrasounds and tomography exams to help your doctor see the condition of your kidneys.
- Urine output measurements, to measure how much urine you urinate in 24 hours
- Urine test, to analyze the urine sample to find out any abnormalities that indicate symptoms of acute kidney failure.
- Taking a tissue sample, your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to take a small sample of kidney tissue for lab testing
Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure
Symptoms of acute kidney failure vary from person to person depending on the underlying cause. This may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Decreased urine output,
- Seizures or coma in severe conditions.
- Swelling in your legs, ankles, and around the eyes.
In some cases, acute kidney failure causes no symptoms and can only be diagnosed through a series of other tests recommended by your doctor.
Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure
Ask your doctor regarding the type of treatment which is best for your condition. You may be required to be hospitalized. The length of your hospital stay will depend on the cause and how quickly your kidney condition improves.
In more serious cases, dialysis may be required to temporarily replace kidney function. Dialysis is a type of medication that works like a healthy person’s kidney function. This treatment is done when your kidneys are no longer able to function properly.
The main focus of the treatment is to treat the causes of acute kidney failure. Your doctor or health care provider will treat all symptoms and complications until your kidneys fully recover.
If you suffer from acute kidney failure, you run higher risks of experiencing or recurrence of other health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
Discuss with your doctor to determine the condition of your kidneys. The best way to minimize the possibility of kidney damage is by identifying the cause and seeking immediate medical treatment.
Treatment Cost for Acute Kidney Failure
Treatment for acute kidney failure requires intensive care in the hospital. Treatment cost for acute kidney failure can vary greatly, depending on the type of treatment, the type of tests, and the hospital’s policies.
For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for acute kidney failure at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Acute Kidney Failure
It may be difficult to predict and prevent acute kidney failure, as this is a condition that occurs suddenly. However, maintaining your kidneys’ health can help prevent acute kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and kidney failure. The following are some steps you can take to prevent acute kidney failure:
- Manage other diseases. Ask your doctor for help managing your diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Pay attention to the medications’ dosages. If you are taking pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, you should not take more than the recommended dosage.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. This can be done by eating a low-fat, low-salt diet, exercising for thirty minutes at least five days a week, limiting your alcohol consumption, and taking medications recommended by your doctor.
Home Remedies for Acute Kidney Failure
During your recovery from acute kidney failure, your doctor may recommend a specific diet to help support your kidneys and limit the work they must do.
Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian to help determine what type of diet plan is best for your condition. A dietitian may recommend that you:
- Eat foods low in potassium. Foods high in potassium can be found in bananas, oranges, tomatoes, spinach, and potatoes, whereas foods low in potassium include apples, grapes, strawberries, peppers, and cauliflower.
- Avoid anything with added salt. Reduce the amount of sodium intake by avoiding products with added salt. This includes fast food, frozen food, canned soups, and processed cheese.
- Limit your phosphorus intake. Phosphorus is an important mineral found in foods, such as bread, wheat, cereals, oatmeal, nuts, and peanut butter. Too much phosphorus in your blood will weaken your bones, cause skin itchiness, and affect your kidneys.
You may no longer need to eat a special diet as you recover from acute kidney failure. Even so, it is important to eat healthy foods to avoid other chronic diseases.
If you have symptoms of impaired kidney function, you should immediately make an appointment with a nephrologist. Use Smarter Health’s free service to help you find recommended doctors and hospitals at home and abroad.