Renal Failure

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Overview of Renal Failure

Commonly known as kidney failure, this condition occurs when kidneys fail to adequately or completely perform their natural function. Kidneys are the human body’s natural garbage disposal mechanism, filtering and disposing off metabolic wastes and toxins from the blood. When they are unable to perform this function at an optimal level (or at all, in severe cases), these toxins continue to reside in the blood, ultimately becoming poison for other systems. This, in turn, considerably raises the risk for contracting other long-term fatal diseases. Renal failure is usually of two types: acute renal failure (also called acute kidney injury, or AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Acute renal failure is usually sudden and spontaneous, and can be the result of a number of factors that are important to determine before it can be treated. Chronic kidney disease, on the other hand, usually develops over time and can either be due to genetic disposition, long-term kidney problems or progression from another disease that ultimately starts afflicting the kidneys.  Renal failure usually ends with a person requiring either a kidney transplant or ongoing hemodialysis treatment to artificially replicate kidney function every few days.

Causes and Risk Factors of Renal Failure

The causes for renal failure vary by the type of failure that has occurred. In cases of acute renal failure, it’s usually a sudden trauma to the kidney that will result in this condition. The trauma can include an accident that physically damages the kidney, or a lack of blood supply to the organ for prolonged periods of time. An abnormally high concentration of blood toxins can also lead to acute kidney failure, which usually happens due to drug overdose. Therefore, drug addicts stand a higher risk of contracting acute renal failure.

Chronic kidney disease progresses overtime, and can often be due to genetic predisposition. This, combined especially with diabetes and hypertension, make the likelihood of disease manifestation even more profound. Chronic kidney disease is usually not easily treatable and often results in requirement for transplant or dialysis.

Signs and Symptoms of Renal Failure

The symptoms of renal failure, unfortunately, do not start to manifest until rather late, where the disease has already progressed considerably. A common indicator of renal failure (or conditions leading to it) is lower production of urine (below 400 mL/day in adults), which results in higher levels of water being retained in the body. Other symptoms include high blood urea concentrations, itching and pain in lower back, abnormal heartbeat and palpitations, swelling in limbs and extremities, nausea and fatigue etc. Renal failure may also result in stark changes to the color and odor of urine and its frequency.