Kidney failure is a condition in which the kidneys lose the ability to remove waste and balance fluids. The kidneys (renal) are a pair of bean-shaped organs on either side of your spine, below your ribs and behind your belly. Each kidney is about 4 or 5 inches long, roughly the size of a large fist.

Functions of the Kidney

The kidneys perform many crucial functions, including:

  1. Maintaining overall fluid balance
  2. Regulating and filtering minerals from blood
  3. Filtering waste materials from food, medications, and toxic substances
  4. Creating hormones that help produce red blood cells, promote bone health, and regulate blood pressure






Types of Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can be either acute or chronic.

  1. Acute Kidney Failure: In acute renal failure, the renal function declines rapidly within hours or days giving rise to serious metabolic disturbance. If this persists to the point that the person is no longer produces urine (oliguria), chances that the person could survive longer than 2 to 3 weeks can’t be ascertained.

2. Chronic Kidney failure: Unlike the acute, it is a more gradual process and could take many months or even a few years before the decline leads to complete failure of the kidneys.

Causes of Kidney Failure

  1. Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli))
  4. Interstitial nephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures).
  5. Polycystic kidney disease
  6. Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers
  7. Vesicoureteral reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
  8. Pyelonephritis (Recurrent kidney infection)

Risk factors of Kidney Failure

Factors that may increase your risk of chronic kidney disease include:

  1. Diabetes
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
  4. Smoking
  5. Obesity
  6. Being African-American, Native American or Asian-American
  7. Family history of kidney disease
  8. Abnormal kidney structure
  9. Older age

Symptoms of a kidney problem

Some common symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue and sleeplessness
  2. Inability to concentrate
  3. Dry and itchy skin
  4. Increased or decreased urination
  5. Bloody urine
  6. Puffiness around the eyes
  7. Swelling of the foot and ankle
  8. Reduced appetite
  9. Muscle cramps

Diagnosis and Management of Kidney Failure

If you discover any of the symptoms mentioned above, quickly see a doctor and your personal and family history will be discussed with you among other things. A kidney function tests will be conducted, and management/ treatment will be based on the laboratory results.

Management and treatment options include either treating the cause, complications or treatment for end stage kidney disease. Treatment for complications include:

  1. High blood pressure medications.
  2. Medications to lower cholesterol levels.
  3. Medications to treat anaemia.
  4. Medications to relieve swelling.
  5. Medications to protect your bones.
  6. A lower protein diet to minimize waste products in your blood.

Treatment for end-stage kidney disease

Dialysis. Dialysis artificially removes waste products and extra fluid from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do this. In haemodialysis, a machine filters waste and excess fluids from your blood. In peritoneal dialysis, a thin tube (catheter) inserted into your abdomen fills your abdominal cavity with a dialysis solution that absorbs waste and excess fluids. After a period, the dialysis solution drains from your body, carrying the waste with it.

Kidney transplant. A kidney transplant involves surgically placing a healthy kidney from a donor into your body. Transplanted kidneys can come from deceased or living donors. You’ll need to take medications for the rest of your life to keep your body from rejecting the new organ. You don’t need to be on dialysis to have a kidney transplant.

Source: Mayoclinic and Medscape

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