Kidneys are the organs that help filter waste products from the blood. They are also involved in regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and red blood cell production in the body.
CAUSES of kidney failure?
Kidney failure may occur from an acute situation that injures the kidneys or from chronic diseases that gradually cause the kidneys to stop functioning.
The list of causes of kidney failure is often categorized based on where the injury has occurred.
Prerenal causes include:
- Hypovolemia (low blood volume) due to blood loss.
- Dehydration from loss of body fluids (for example, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fever) and poor intake of fluids. Medication, for example, diuretics (“water pills”) may cause excessive water loss.
- Abnormal blood flow to and from the kidney due to obstruction of the renal artery or vein e.g. by a tumor or cancer or thrombus.
Renal Causes of Kidney failure include:
– Sepsis: The body’s immune system is overwhelmed from infection and causes inflammation and shutdown of the kidneys.
– Medications: Some medications are toxic to the kidney including:
– Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
– Antibiotics like aminoglycosides, gentamicin (Garamycin), tobramycin lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid).
Iodine-containing medications such as those injected for radiology dye studies etc.
– Multiple myeloma
– Acute glomerulonephritis or inflammation of the glomeruli, the filtering system of the kidneys. Many diseases can cause this inflammation including: Systemic lupus erythematosus, Wegener’s granulomatosis, Goodpasture syndrome.
Post Renal causes of kidney failure are due to factors that affect outflow of the urine including:
– Obstruction of the bladder or the ureters can cause back pressure because the kidneys continue to produce urine, but the obstruction acts like a dam, and urine backs up into the kidneys. When the pressure increases high enough, the kidneys are damaged and shut down.
– Prostatic hypertrophy or prostate cancer may block the urethra and prevents the bladder from emptying.Tumors in the abdomen that surround and obstruct the ureters.
– Kidney stones. Usually, kidney stones affect only one kidney and do not cause kidney failure. However, if there is only one kidney present, a kidney stone may cause the remaining kidney to fail.
– Chronic renal failure develops over months and years. The most common causes of chronic renal failure are related to: poorly controlled diabetes, poorly controlled high blood pressure, and chronic glomerulonephritis.
Less common causes of chronic renal failure include:
– Polycystic kidney disease.
– Nephrotic syndrome.
– Alport’s disease.
– Interstitial nephritis.
– Kidney stones.
– Prostate disease.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of kidney failure?
Initially, kidney failure may not produce any symptoms (asymptomatic). As kidney function decreases, the symptoms are related to the inability to regulate water and electrolyte balances, clear waste products from the body, and promote red blood cell production.
If unrecognized or untreated, the following symptoms of kidney failure may develop into life-threatening circumstances.
– Shortness of breath
– Generalized swelling (edema)
– Generalized weakness due to anemia
– Loss of appetite
– Congestive heart failure
– Metabolic acidosis
– High blood potassium (hyperkalemia)
– Fatal heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation
– Rising urea levels in the blood (uremia) may lead to brain encephalopathy,pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining), or low calcium blood levels (hypocalcemia).
How is kidney failure DIAGNOSED?
– Blood tests: Diagnosis of kidney failure can be confirmed by blood tests such as Blood Urea Nitrogen, creatinine, and Glomerular Filtration Rate; that measure the buildup of waste products in the blood.
– Urine tests: Urine tests may be ordered to measure the amount of protein, detect the presence of abnormal cells, or measure the concentration of electrolytes.
– Other tests are used to diagnose the type of kidney failure such as:
What puts you at risk for kidney disease? Major risk factors include: diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure, and being age 60 or older.
Kidney disease often has no symptoms, and it can go undetected until very advanced. But a simple urine test can tell you if you have kidney disease. Remember, it’s important to get tested because early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
Prevention is always the goal with kidney failure.
Chronic diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes are devastating because of the damage that they can do to kidneys and other organs.
Lifelong diligence is important in keeping blood sugar and blood pressure within normal limits. Specific treatments depend upon the underlying diseases.
Once kidney failure is present, the goal is to prevent further deterioration of renal function. If ignored, the kidneys will progress to complete failure, but if underlying illnesses are addressed and treated aggressively, kidney function can be preserved, though not always improved.
If the kidneys fail completely, the only treatment options available may be:
THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD DO:
Follow a balanced diet
Drink (alcohol and soft drinks containing carbonated water and caffeine) in moderation.
Stay hydrated i.e. drink lots of water.
Monitor cholesterol levels.
Get an annual physical check up.
Know your family medical history
Lower high blood pressure
Keep blood-sugar levels under control if diabetic.
Reduce salt intake.
Avoid NSAIDs, a type of painkillers.