KIDNEY FAILURE AND SYMPTOMS
The kidneys are a pair of organs located on each side of your spine. The main function of the kidneys is to filter and remove toxins from the body. It then sends the toxins to the bladder which is then removed from the body through urination.
When the kidneys lose their ability to filter toxins it results in a condition called kidney failure. The body becomes overloaded with toxins if the kidney fails to do its function. This can even lead to the life-threatening situation if not treated.
What causes kidney failure?
There are many factors that can affect your kidney health and condition. It includes:
- Exposure to toxic pollutants
- Acute and chronic diseases
- Kidney trauma
- Severe dehydration
People who are at high risk of kidney failure suffer from one of the following causes.
- ¨ LOSS OF BLOOD FLOW TO THE KIDNEYS:
Sudden loss of blood flow to the kidneys can result in kidney failure. Diseases that may lead to loss of blood flow to the kidneys include:
- Heart attack and other heart diseases
- Liver failure or scarring of the liver
- Severe burn
- Severe infection
- Allergic reaction
- Blood pressure
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- ¨ URINE ELIMINATION PROBLEMS:
When the body can’t eliminate urine, the toxic gets accumulated in the kidney leading to kidney failure. Some cancers such as prostate, cervical, colon and bladder cancer can block the urine passageways. Other factors that can interfere with urination include;
- Enlarged prostate
- Kidney stones
- Blood clots in urinary tract
- Damage to nerves that control the bladder
Other causes that may lead to kidney failure are:
- Chemo drugs
- Blood clot in kidneys
- Alcohol consumption
- Certain antibiotics
- dyes used for imaging purposes
Types of kidney failure:
- Acute Prerenal kidney failure:
This is caused by inadequate flow of blood to the kidneys. Without sufficient blood, the kidneys will not be able to filter toxins. This type of kidney failure can be cured once the exact cause of decreased blood flow is determined.
- Acute intrinsic kidney failure:
This is caused by direct trauma to the kidneys such as an accident or physical impairment. It may also be due to the accumulation of toxins or a condition called ischemia, where there is a lack of oxygen in the kidneys. Ischemia may be due to the following reasons:
- Inflammation of tiny filters in the kidneys called as glomerulonephritis.
- Severe bleeding
- Obstruction of renal blood vessels
- Chronic pre-renal kidney failure:
When there is decreased blood flow to the kidneys over a long period of time, the kidneys begins to shrink and eventually lose its ability to function.
- Chronic intrinsic kidney failure:
Direct trauma to the kidneys can cause long-term damages such as severe bleeding or lack of oxygen to the kidneys which affect kidney functions.
- Chronic post-renal kidney failure:
A long-term blockage in the urinary tract prevents urination which eventually causes kidney failure.
What are the symptoms of kidney failure?
Many symptoms can be signs of kidney failure. Sometimes there might be no symptoms but still, result in kidney failure. Possible symptoms include:
- Reduced amount of urine
- Swellings in legs, ankles, and feet
- Pressure or pain in chest
- Excessive dizziness or fatigue
- Persistent nausea
How is it diagnosed?
A urine sample is tested to check for any abnormalities. It is used to measure the amount of red and white blood cells, high levels of bacteria and cellular casts.
- Blood samples:
Blood samples are taken to measure the substances filtered by kidneys such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.
MRI & CT scans provide images of the kidneys which help to detect any abnormalities or blockages in the kidneys.
- Kidney tissue samples:
A kidney biopsy is used to collect the tissue sample. A local anesthesia is given to avoid any discomfort. Ultrasound imaging can be used to locate the kidneys and guide the insertion of the biopsy needle.
Treatment for kidney failure:
There is no cure for kidney failure. People can adopt a method called dialysis which does the same function as that of the kidneys but using a machine. It cannot cure kidney failure but only extends your lifetime. It is a very expensive procedure so people usually prefer kidney transplantation. In this case, an affected kidney is replaced by a healthy kidney from the donor. It also has its own pros and cons but this is widely preferred than the dialysis procedure.