Acute Renal Failure

Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure, sometimes called acute kidney injury, is a disease defined as a person’s kidneys suddenly not working. They call it acute because it is sudden and becomes progressive almost immediately. A person’s kidneys are responsible for balancing the water and salt in your blood as well as removing waste products, but when the kidneys stop working, these fluids, waste products, and electrolytes start to build up rapidly. This causes a variety of adverse health conditions, and can be fatal without rapid treatment.

Causes of Acute Renal Failure

There are three main causes that contribute to the development of acute renal failure; a sudden drop in blood flow to the kidneys, damage from medication or infection, and a blockage that prevents urine from flowing out of the kidneys. With a sudden drop in blood flow, it must be a sudden and serious drop such as from dehydration, or heavy blood loss from a serious injury, as well as a bad infection. Some medications or infections can also cause acute renal failure, including ibuprofen, aspirin, antibiotic, ACE inhibitors and other blood pressure medications, and the dye used in X-rays. A blockage is often caused by an enlarged prostate gland, kidney stones, some injuries, or a tumor.

Risk Factors

Some people are at a higher risk of getting acute renal failure including older adults, those who have a history of liver disease or kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or heart failure, and someone who was previously in the hospital for a bone marrow transplant.

Symptoms of Acute Renal Failure

Some of the signs and symptoms of acute renal failure include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, very little urine while urinating, swelling in your legs or feet, flank pain which occurs on your back below your rib cage, and mental conditions such as being overly sleepy, restless, anxious, or confused.

Diagnosing Acute Renal Failure

To diagnose acute renal failure, you will need to have certain tests done. This is usually done when you feel any of the above symptoms and end up in your general physician’s office or possibly the hospital. Occasionally, you are in the hospital for other medical issues and one of the routine tests done is to check for kidney failure. It is often found by a doctor asking you questions about symptoms and medications you’re taking, as well as urine and blood tests.

Treating Acute Renal Failure

Treatment options for acute renal failure include stopping medications causing your kidney failure, fixing the blockage in the urinary tract, and steps taken to restore your kidney’s blood flow. Additional treatment options include dialysis, antibiotics for treating infections, and following a special diet until the acute renal failure stabilizes.

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