KIDNEY HEALTH: All You Need To Know About Kidney Failure - Causes, Symptoms and Treatments | TheInfo247.com

Thursday, May 13, 2021

KIDNEY HEALTH: All You Need To Know About Kidney Failure - Causes, Symptoms and Treatments


KIDNEY HEALTH: All You Need To Know About Kidney
Kidneys are the organs that filter waste products from the blood. They are also involved in regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and red blood cell production in the body.

Kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. When your kidneys fail, it means they have stopped working well enough for you to survive without dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Symptoms of kidney failure are due to the build-up of waste products and excess fluid in the body that may cause weakness, shortness of breath, lethargy, swelling, and confusion.

Inability to remove potassium from the bloodstream may lead to abnormal heart rhythms and sudden death. Initially kidney failure may cause no symptoms.

There are numerous causes of kidney failure, and treatment of the underlying disease may be the first step in correcting the kidney abnormality.

Some causes of kidney failure are treatable and the kidney function may return to normal. Unfortunately, kidney failure may be progressive in other situations and may be irreversible.

The diagnosis of kidney failure usually is made by blood tests measuring BUN, creatinine, and glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

Treatment of the underlying cause of kidney failure may return kidney function to normal. Lifelong efforts to control blood pressure and diabetes may be the best way to prevent chronic kidney disease and its progression to kidney failure. As we age, kidney function gradually decreases over time.

If the kidneys fail completely, the only treatment options available may be dialysis or kidney transplant.

This detailed post will enlighten you more on the following:

Where are the kidneys located?

What are the key functions of the kidneys?

What causes kidney failure?

What causes acute kidney failure?

What are the signs and symptoms of kidney failure?

What are the treatment options for kidney failure?

How do I adjust to kidney failure?

How do I adjust to dialysis?

What are the complications of kidney failure?

What should I eat when I have Kidney failure?

What medications treat kidney failure / How can you treat kidney failure?

What are dialysis and hemodialysis?

Is a kidney transplant an option?


Where are the kidneys located?

The kidneys are located in the abdomen toward the back, normally one on each side of the spine. They get their blood supply through the renal arteries directly from the aorta and send blood back to the heart via the renal veins to the vena cava. (The term "renal" is derived from the Latin name for kidney.)

What are the key functions of the kidneys?

When blood flows to the kidney, sensors within specialized kidney cells regulate how much water to excrete as urine, along with what concentration of electrolytes. For example, if a person is dehydrated from exercise or from an illness, the kidneys will hold onto as much water as possible and the urine becomes very concentrated. When adequate water is present in the body, the urine is much more dilute, and the urine becomes clear.

This system is controlled by renin, a hormone produced in the kidney that is part of the fluid and blood pressure regulation systems of the body.

Kidneys are also the source of erythropoietin in the body, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells. Special cells in the kidney monitor the oxygen concentration in blood. If oxygen levels fall, erythropoietin levels rise and the body starts to manufacture more red blood cells.

Urine that is made by each kidney flows through the ureter, a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. Urine is stored within the bladder, and when urination occurs, the bladder empties urine through a tube called the urethra.

What causes kidney failure?

In most cases, kidney failure is caused by other health problems that have done permanent damage (harm) to your kidneys little by little, over time.

When your kidneys are damaged, they may not work as well as they should. If the damage to your kidneys continues to get worse and your kidneys are less and less able to do their job, you have chronic kidney disease. Kidney failure is the last (most severe) stage of chronic kidney disease. This is why kidney failure is also called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD for short.

Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD. Other problems that can cause kidney failure include:

Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and IgA nephropathy
Genetic diseases (diseases you are born with), such as polycystic kidney disease
Nephrotic syndrome
Urinary tract problems
Sometimes the kidneys can stop working very suddenly (within two days). This type of kidney failure is called acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. Common causes of acute renal failure include:

Heart attack
Illegal drug use and drug abuse
Not enough blood flowing to the kidneys
Urinary tract problems
This type of kidney failure is not always permanent. Your kidneys may go back to normal or almost normal with treatment and if you do not have other serious health problems.

Having one of the health problems that can lead to kidney failure does not mean that you will definitely have kidney failure. Living a healthy lifestyle and working with your doctor to control these health problems can help your kidneys work for as long as possible.

What causes acute kidney failure?

Renal causes of kidney failure (damage directly to the kidney itself) include:

Sepsis: The body's immune system is overwhelmed from infection and causes inflammation and shutdown of the kidneys. This usually does not occur with simple urinary tract infections.

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

Rhabdomyolysis: In rhabdomyolysis there is significant muscle breakdown in the body, and the damaged muscle fibers clog the filtering system of the kidneys. Massive muscle injury may occur because of trauma, crush injuries, and burns. Some medications used to treat high cholesterol may cause rhabdomyolysis.

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.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome: This condition results from abnormal destruction of red blood cells. It most often occurs in children after certain infections, but also may be caused by medications, pregnancy, or can occur for unknown reasons.

Postrenal kidney failure causes
Post renal causes of kidney failure (post=after + renal= kidney) are due to factors that affect outflow of the urine:

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.

What are the 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.

You may notice one or more of the following symptoms if your kidneys are beginning to fail:


Itching
Muscle cramps
Lethargy
Weakness
Shortness of breath
Generalized swelling (edema)
Generalized weakness due to anemia
Loss of appetite
Lethargy
Fatigue
Nausea and vomiting
Not feeling hungry
Swelling in your feet and ankles
Too much urine (pee) or not enough urine
Trouble catching your breath
Trouble sleeping
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)

If your kidneys stop working suddenly (acute kidney failure), you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

Abdominal (belly) pain
Back pain
Diarrhea
Fever
Nosebleeds
Rash
Vomiting
Having one or more of any of the symptoms above may be a sign of serious kidney problems. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor right away.

What are the treatment options for kidney failure?

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 you have kidney failure (end-stage renal disease or ESRD), you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. There is no cure for ESRD, but many people live long lives while on dialysis or after having a kidney transplant.


There are just a few options for treating kidney failure, including kidney transplant and several types of dialysis. Your doctor can help you figure out which treatment is best for you, so it is adviceable to contact your doctor if you notice symptoms of kidney failure as outlined above.

How do I adjust to kidney failure?

Learning that you have kidney failure can come as a shock, even if you have known for a long time that your kidneys were not working well. Having to change your lifestyle to make time for your treatments can make coping with this new reality even harder. You may have to stop working or find new ways to exercise. You may feel sad or nervous. All is not lost. You can get help to feel better and have a fulfilling life. .

How do I adjust to dialysis?

Starting dialysis often means creating a new normal for yourself and your family. There’s a lot to think about, from choosing a treatment option, to finding new ways to enjoy your favorite activities, to managing a new diet.

What are the complications of kidney failure?

Your kidneys do many jobs to keep you healthy. Cleaning your blood is only one of their jobs. They also control chemicals and fluids in your body, help control your blood pressure and help make red blood cells. Dialysis can do only some, not all, of the jobs that healthy kidneys do. Therefore, even when you are being treated for kidney failure, you may have some problems that come from having kidneys that don’t work well.

What should I eat when I have Kidney failure?

Diet is an important consideration for those with impaired kidney function. Consultation with a dietician may be helpful to understand what foods may or may not be appropriate.

In this state of impaired kidney function, the kidneys cannot easily remove excess water, salt, or potassium from the blood, so foods high in potassium salt substitutes may need to be consumed in limited quantities.
Examples of potassium rich foods include:

Bananas
Apricots
Cantaloupe
Sweet potatoes
Yogurt
Spinach
Avocados

Phosphorus is a forgotten chemical that is associated with calcium metabolism and may be elevated in the body in kidney failure. Too much phosphorus can leech calcium from the bones and cause osteoporosis and fractures. Examples of foods and beverages high in phosphorus include:

Milk
Cheese
Nuts
Dark cola drinks
Canned iced teas
Yogurt
Organ meets
Sardines
Oysters
Baked beans
Black beans
Lentils
Kidney beans
Soy beans
Bran cereals
Caramels
Whole grain products

Dialysis helps to do some of the work that your kidneys did when they were healthy, but it cannot do everything that healthy kidneys do. Therefore, even when you are on dialysis, you will need to limit what and how much you eat and drink. Your diet needs may depend on the type of dialysis you are on (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) and your treatment schedule.

What medications treat kidney failure / How can you treat kidney failure?

Different types and classes of medications may be used to help control some of the issues associated with kidney failure including:

• Phosphorus-lowering medications, for example, calcium carbonate (Caltrate), calcitriol (Rocaltrol), and sevelamer (Renagel)

• Red blood cell production stimulation, for example, erythropoietin, darbepoetin (Aranesp)

• Red blood cell production (iron supplements)

• Blood pressure medications

• Vitamins

Once the kidneys fail completely, the treatment options are limited to dialysis or kidney replacement by transplantation.

What are dialysis and hemodialysis?

Dialysis cleanses the body of waste products in the body by use of filter systems.
There are two types of dialysis,
1) hemodialysis and
2) peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis uses a machine filter called a dialyzer or artificial kidney to remove excess water and salt, to balance the other electrolytes in the body, and to remove waste products of metabolism. Blood is removed from the body and flows through tubing into the machine, where it passes next to a filter membrane. A specialized chemical solution (dialysate) flows on the other side of the membrane. The dialysate is formulated to draw impurities from the blood through the filter membrane. Blood and dialysate never touch in the artificial kidney machine.

For this type of dialysis, access to the blood vessels needs to be surgically created so that large amounts of blood can flow into the machine and back to the body. Surgeons can build a fistula, a connection between a large artery and vein in the body, usually in the arm, that allows a large amount of blood to flow into the vein. This makes the vein swell or dilate, and its walls become thicker so that it can tolerate repeated needle sticks to attach tubing from the body to the machine. Since it takes many weeks or months for a fistula to mature enough to be used, significant planning is required if hemodialysis is to be considered as an option.

If the kidney failure happens acutely and there is no time to build a fistula, special catheters may be inserted into the larger blood vessels of the arm, leg, or chest. These catheters may be left in place for weeks. In some diseases, the need for dialysis will be temporary, but if the expectation is that dialysis will continue for a prolonged period of time, these catheters act as a bridge until a fistula can be planned, placed, and matured.

Dialysis treatments normally occur three times a week and last a few hours at a time. Most commonly, patients travel to an outpatient center to have dialysis, but home dialysis therapy is becoming an option for some.

Outpatient dialysis is available on some cruise ships. They are equipped with dialysis machines with trained health care professionals ready to care for those with kidney failure while traveling

Peritoneal dialysis:
Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdominal cavity as the dialysis filter to rid the body of waste and to balance electrolyte levels. A catheter is placed in the abdominal cavity through the abdominal wall by a surgeon, and it is expected to remain in place for the long-term. The dialysis solution is then dripped in through the catheter and left in the abdominal cavity for a few hours after which, it is drained out.

During that time, waste products leech from the blood flowing through the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), and attach themselves to the fluid that has been instilled by the catheters. Often, patients instill the dialysate fluid before bedtime, and drain it in the morning.

There are benefits and complications for each type of dialysis. Not every patient can choose which type he or she would prefer. The treatment decision depends on the patient's illness and their past medical history along with other issues. Usually, the nephrologist (kidney specialist) will have a long discussion with the patient and family to decide what will be the best option available

Dialysis is lifesaving. Without it, patients whose kidneys no longer function would die relatively quickly due to electrolyte abnormalities and the buildup of toxins in the blood stream. Patients may live many years with dialysis but other underlying and associated illnesses often are the cause of death.

Is a kidney transplant an option?

If kidney failure occurs and is non-reversible, kidney transplantation is an alternative option to dialysis. If the patient is an appropriate candidate, the healthcare professional and nephrologist will contact an organ transplant center to arrange evaluation to see whether the patient is suitable for this treatment. If so, the search for a donor begins. Sometimes, family members have compatible tissue types and, if they are willing, may donate a kidney. Otherwise, the patient will be placed on the organ transplant list that is maintained by the United Network of Organ Sharing.

Not all hospitals are capable of performing kidney transplants. The patient may have to travel to undergo their operation. The most successful programs are those that do many transplants every year.

While kidney transplants have become routine, they still carry some risk. The patient will need to take anti-rejection medications that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight infection. The body can try to reject the kidney or the transplanted kidney may fail to work. As with any operation, there is a risk of bleeding and infection.

Kidney transplants may provide better quality of life than dialysis. After one year, 95% of transplanted kidneys are still functioning and after five years, the number is 80%. It seems that the longer a patient is on dialysis, the shorter the life of the transplanted kidney.

If the transplanted kidney fails, the alternative is another kidney transplant or a return to dialysis.

What is the prognosis and life expectancy for kidney failure? Can it be prevented?
The outlook for kidney failure depends upon the underlying condition that caused it. Kidney function may return to normal, especially if it is due to an acute obstruction and that obstruction is relieved. Other causes of decreased kidney function leading to kidney failure are due to underlying disease and occur slowly over time.

Prevention is the best chance to maintain kidney function, and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes over a lifetime can decrease the potential for progressive kidney damage.

Chronic kidney failure may be managed to help monitor electrolyte and waste product levels in the bloodstream. Major abnormalities can be life-threatening, and treatment options may be limited to dialysis or transplant.

We hope that you've learnt a lot from this detailed article about the kidney, kindly drop your comments if you have any questions and suggestions.

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