Located in the abdominal cavity on each side of the spine, the kidneys are one of the most important regulatory organs that help in maintaining the level of electrolytes and acid–base balance in the body and also operate as a filter for removal of impurities, waste products, excess fluid and salt from the body.
The glomeruli present in the kidneys function as the main filtering units that filters blood. Renal kidney failure occurs when the kidney fails to flush out waste and extra fluid from blood in an efficient manner and the two main forms of kidney failure are acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease.
The former is reversible through adequate treatment but the latter is not reversible in most cases.
Causes Of Kidney Failure
Kidney failure is caused when the kidneys are incapable to filter the blood and remove waste products from it. There are various reasons of renal insufficiency such as:
- Pre-renal Causes such as reduced blood supply to the kidney due to heart attacks, liver failure, use of certain medications and severe dehydration.
- Renal kidney failure can also be caused due to damage to the kidney by deposition of blood clots, cholesterol deposits, inflammation of the glomeruli, lupus and infections.
- Post-renal causes of kidney failure include blockage of the urinary bladder or ureters that creates back pressure in the kidney. It can also be initiated due to prostate cancer, kidney stones and tumors in the abdomen.
Symptoms Of Kidney Failure
The early signs of kidney failure are very subtle and in most cases it becomes difficult to identify it until it has reached advanced stages. Yet, some of the most evident signs and symptoms of kidney failure are stated as follows:
- With decreased kidney functions, problems such as inability to maintain electrolyte balance and problems in regulation of water will arise.
- The acidity of the body or metabolic acidosis will increase due to the failure to manufacture bicarbonate that will eventually lead to organ failure.
- Inability to remove excess potassium and rising level of potassium in the body will lead to disturbances in heart rhythm.
- Increased level of urea in blood will affect brain functions and cause inflammation of heart linings.
- Other symptoms include general lethargy, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Diagnosis Of Kidney Failure
Depending on acute kidney failure symptoms, the doctor will run certain blood and urine tests to diagnose any abnormal functioning of the kidney and confirm kidney failure.
- Blood tests of BUN, creatinine, and GFR are done to ascertain the amount of waste material in blood. In case of abnormal kidney functioning, the BUN and creatine level rises and GFR (glomerular filtration rate) slows down. CRF is the rate at which blood is filtered through the kidney.
- Urine tests are done to see the presence of protein in urine, which is a positive sign of kidney failure. Presence of casts – aggressions of red and white blood cells in urine is another indicator of kidney problems.
- Abdominal ultrasound can be done to identify the type of kidney failure and look for obstructions in the kidney.
Treatment For Kidney Failure
Identifying the underlying cause of kidney diseases and handling it is the best way to prevent further damage in case of kidney failure.
Persistent diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes have severe damaging effects of the kidney, and therefore it is essential to keep these maladies under control in order to save the kidney and other vital organs.
One of the most substantial factors that affect kidneys is the diet – the food we eat every day. Therefore, it is important to plan out a special diet after consulting with a dietician.
Foods rich in excessive salt, potassium and phosphorus such salt substitutes, bananas, dairy products and nuts is best avoided in case of kidney diseases. A low protein diet is also recommended in order to diminish the pressure on the kidneys.
Medications For Issues Related To Kidney Failure
- Medications for hypertension can ease high blood pressure, which is often caused due to kidney disease.
- Medications for regulating blood cholesterol levels can help in lowering the concentration of bad cholesterol in blood.
- Supplements of the hormone erythropoietin combined with iron are often administered to treat Anemia that helps in relieving weakness and fatigue.
- Medication to reduce fluid retention helps reduce swelling of arms and legs.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements to protect bone health and reduce risk of fracture.
If the kidney does not respond to the medicines and other treatments, then the only other option left is dialysis and kidney transplantation.
Dialysis works as an artificial filtration system which helps in removing extra fluids, waste products and impurities from blood. There are two variation of dialysis – hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
- Hemodialysis: In case of hemodialysis, an artificial device called dialyzer is used to remove excess fluids, waste products and salt from the blood.
- Peritoneal Dialysis: In case of peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is instilled in the abdominal cavity and the abdomen is filled with a dialysis solution that absorbs waste and excess fluids and then drains out from the body after some time.
A kidney transplant implicates surgically replacing the damaged kidney with a healthy one from a donor. Transplanted kidneys can be received from deceased or living donors.
You’ll need to take medicines for the rest of your life to prevent your body from rejecting the new organ. Although kidney transplantation has become a common surgery now a days, but it still carries its share of risk of infection and bleeding.
The body might try to reject the new donated kidney or it might not work in the patient. In most cases, kidney transplantations are successful.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with routine physical activity and a strict diet can make life easier for those suffering from kidney failure. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity after consulting with the physical can help in relieving stress and fatigue.
Maintaining normal routine and enjoying with family can help in reducing depression and sadness. Following a diet low in sodium, potassium and protein can prevent further damage to the kidneys.
Living with a chronic disease is stressful and it is important to talk to an open up to a person you trust in order to share your feelings and concerns.