Kidney failure

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Do you suffer from low or decreased urine output from past few months?

Are you experiencing loss of appetite coupled with constant tiredness?

If yes, it could indicate a renal problem and in the worst case might be an indicator of kidney failure.

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A healthy kidney cleanses the blood by removing harmful or toxic waste. However, when the kidneys are damaged these toxic wastes are accumulated, which increase your blood pressure and also retain excess fluid leading to renal failure.

Unlike kidney disease in which the condition can be treated with the help of medication or surgery, renal failure might require transplantation if the kidneys fail to function properly. This is the reason a person with renal infection or inflammation is advised to visit a doctor every three months, explains Dr Suresh Chandra, Consultant- Department of Nephrology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad. Here's what you need to know about kidney failure.

Causes

Kidney failure can be caused due an acute kidney failure or chronic kidney failure. An infection or inflammation of the organ, leading to kidney damage is known as acute kidney failure, and the damaged resulted due to an underlying health condition that slowly affects the failure. There are numerous causes of kidney failure, of which the common ones are -

Factors/conditions causing decreased blood supply to the kidney: It could be severe dehydration, lack of adequate water intake, use of diuretics, abnormal blood flow due to obstruction of the renal artery or vein and loss of blood volume due to blood loss.

Factors/conditions which directly damages the kidney: This includes medications like NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), sepsis, inflammation of the glomeruli, multiple myeloma and lupus.

Factors that affect the outflow of urine: It could be due to obstruction of the urinary bladder, or uterus, kidney stones, prostate cancer or cancer of the abdomen.

Factors that increase the risk of chronic renal failure: People suffering from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, kidney stones, polycystic kidney disease and urinary infections are at a high risk of developing chronic kidney failure in the long run.

Symptoms

The symptoms of kidney failure are asymptomatic, which means it doesn't show any key signs until late in its course of the condition. As kidney function is impaired, the symptoms are related to urine output, water regulation, electrolyte imbalance and increase in the toxic load.

However, in some cases, the patient might show some signs which are termed as early symptoms of kidney failure. These are -


  • Swelling of the face and feet

  • Increase blood pressure

  • Decrease or increase of urine output

  • Blood or pus in the urine.


As the condition progresses, the symptoms which manifest include-

Diagnosis

In most cases, the diagnosis of kidney failure is a consequence of the person suffering from an underlying disease or condition. And this is te reason, people suffering from diabetes, hypertension and other risk factors for kidney disease are monitored for kidney function as a part of their routine health check-up.

The most common screening method for diagnosis of kidney failure include -

Urine test: It is recommended to detect the presence of abnormal cells and measure the concentration of the electrolytes and protein in the urine. If you are suffering from any risk factors for kidney disease, then the test should be done at least every three months to detect any damage to the kidney.

Blood tests: Also known as kidney function test, it includes analysis of BUN (blood urea nitrogen), creatinine and GFR (glomerular filtrate rate) to measure the waste buildup in the blood.

Ultrasound: A renal ultrasound uses sound waves to determine the structure and function of the organ. It helps in the confirmation of the diagnosis of renal failure.

Treatment

If you suffer from kidney failure, visit your doctor, at least, every three months. Based on your condition, your clinician will decide to prescribe you medicines. In advanced kidney failure, the person may require dialysis or kidney transplant.

Diet: As kidney function is impaired in the case of renal failure, care should be taken to ensure proper dietary intake and lower the load on the kidneys. In this case, a diet low in salt and potassium is recommended as the kidneys fail to excrete these nutrients and water.Apart from this, lower your intake of phosphorus as excess phosphorus might cause leaching of calcium from bones leading to osteoporosis.

Medications: Depending upon the cause of the condition, your doctor might prescribe medications accordingly to treat the underlying cause of the condition and hence, treat kidney failure. These include iron supplements, vitamins, anti-hypertensive medications, drugs to increase the production of RBCs (red blood cells) and phosphorus-lowering drugs.

Dialysis: In this, a machine filter called dialyzer is used to remove excess salt and water to balance the other electrolytes. It also helps in the removal od waste products. Depending upon your condition, your doctor might recommend the frequency to undergo dialysis, which usually lasts for few hours.

Kidney transplantation: As every person has two kidneys, injury or damage to both the kidneys might require a kidney transplantation. However, if only one kidney fails and the other kidney continues to function properly, there is no need for transplantation. Here's everything you need to know about kidney transplantation.

If renal failure is due to an underlying chronic condition like diabetes or hypertension, then care should be taken to monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure levels and thus, prevent further worsening of the condition.

Prevention

Here are few tips to prevent kidney damage and hence, kidney failure.

Follow a healthy lifestyle by controlling your diet and exercising regularly. Control your diet to avoid obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Also, maintain a diet low in fat, salt and potassium. Moreover, regular exercise also plays an essential role in maintaining your body weight and hence, lower your risk of kidney damage.
Do not use painkillers for every pain and in the case of any severe pain, always consult a doctor before popping a pill. Also, never take any medications without your doctor's prescription as it might lead to kidney damage in the long run. Even Ayurvedic drugs should not be taken regularly as it could be dangerous and detrimental to your health.

 

The  content has been verified by Dr Suresh Chandra, Consultant- Department of Nephrology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad.

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