Renal failure

What is kidney failure?

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys are injured and do not function properly, so dangerous wastes can build up in the body, causing blood pressure to rise. The body retains excess fluids and does not produce the necessary red blood cells, this is kidney failure. In the event that the kidneys fail, you will need treatment to replace the functions they do on a regular basis. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are the existing treatments that can solve the disease. However, each method has its pros and cons, depending on the treatment chosen, the patient will have to change his or her lifestyle completely, i.e. diet, physical exercise and daily routine, among others. There are two types of renal insufficiency

  • Acute renal failure (ARF): renal functions are suddenly altered and are usually manifested by three functions: clearance, regulation of fluid volume and regulation of ion composition.
  • Chronic renal failure (CKD): This type of renal failure is characterized by a lack of symptoms until the effects potentially worsen. It is important to pre-diagnose the disease because treatments will not have the desired effect in an advanced stage of kidney failure.

The body retains excess fluids and does not produce the necessary red blood cells, this is kidney failure.

Prognosis of the disease

The disease is life-threatening and may require a form of intensive treatment, although the kidneys may function within weeks or months after the most appropriate treatment has been given. In other cases, chronic renal failure or end-stage renal disease may occur. There is an increased risk of death when kidney failure is preceded by surgery, trauma, or severe infection in a patient with heart disease, lung disease, or a recent stroke. Other factors that may increase the risk of death include advanced age, infection, blood loss from the gastrointestinal tract, and progressive progression of kidney failure.

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Symptoms of kidney failure

Kidney failure progresses slowly and sometimes the symptoms do not become apparent until an advanced stage of the disease is reached. During the end stage of the disease, close to kidney failure, you may experience some symptoms caused by the accumulation of wastes and extra fluid in your body.

If the kidneys begin to fail, the following symptoms may be noted:

  • Itching
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Excessive urination or not enough urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping

If the patient has acute kidney failure, he or she will notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nosebleeds
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Medical tests for kidney failure

A large number of patients may show generalized swelling due to fluid retention. The doctor may examine the patient and hear a heart murmur, crackles in the lungs, or signs of swelling of the lining of the heart by listening to the heart and lungs through the stethoscope. Test results can vary in a matter of a few days to 2 weeks and some of these tests are:

  • BUN
  • Creatinine clearance
  • Serum creatinine
  • Urinalysis

The specialist may also perform an abdominal ultrasound in order to diagnose renal failure, another test is abdominal CT scan or also MRI of the abdomen which can reveal if the patient has a urinary tract obstruction. Blood tests can help diagnose some of the causes of renal failure. On the other hand, arterial blood gases and biochemical analysis of the blood may reveal metabolic acidosis.

Causes of renal failure

Both causes and risk factors of renal failure are described below. First of all it is necessary to say that there are numerous causes of possible kidney damage such as:

  • Acute tubular necrosis (ATN)
  • Autoimmune kidney disease: acute nephritic syndrome or interstitial nephritis.
  • Decreased blood flow due to very low blood pressure, which can be caused by: burns, dehydration, hemorrhage, injury, septic shock, severe illness, and surgery.
  • Disorders that generate coagulation within the kidney blood vessels such as: hemolytic uremic syndrome, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), malignant hypertension, transfusion reaction or scleroderma.
  • Infections causing direct injury to the kidney such as acute pyelonephritis and septicemia.
  • Complications of pregnancy such as: placenta abruptio or placenta previa
  • Urinary tract obstruction.
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Can it be prevented?

It is difficult to prevent or predict kidney failure. However, you can reduce your risk by taking care of your kidney health by following these tips.

  • Pay attention to the labels on over-the-counter pain relievers: Taking excessive amounts of medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen may increase the risk of severe kidney failure. If the patient has kidney disease, diabetes or blood pressure, taking these medications may increase the risk of kidney failure.
  • Medical help to avoid kidney problems. If the patient has kidney disease or a condition that may increase the risk of kidney failure, such as diabetes or blood pressure. The best prevention is to respect the treatment and follow medical advice to reduce the effects of the disease.
  • Try to lead a healthy lifestyle. An active lifestyle with a balanced diet and no alcohol can help prevent future kidney failure in the patient.

Treatments for kidney failure

If the patient suffers from kidney failure and his life is in danger, he will need dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant to save his life. There is currently no known cure for kidney failure, but many patients have extended their life expectancy through dialysis or after receiving a kidney transplant. The medical specialist will be in charge of analyzing the best treatment for your situation. There are other treatments such as

  • Hemodialysis: this treatment uses a machine to clean the patient’s blood and can be performed in a dialysis center or at the patient’s home.
  • Peritoneal dialysis: this other treatment uses the lining of the abdomen called the peritoneum and a solution called a cleansing dialysate to clean the blood. In addition, peritoneal dialysis can be performed at the patient’s home or at work in the event that the patient is unable to go to a medical center.
  • Kidney transplantation: Kidney transplantation consists of obtaining a healthy kidney from another person. This organ can come from a living donor or a deceased person. The new kidney can take over the functions that the patient’s natural kidneys previously performed.
  • Medical treatment: This is the alternative if the patient prefers not to start dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant. Through medical treatment, kidney failure can be treated and help the patient live better until his or her body stops functioning. It is important to note that medical treatment is not a cure for kidney failure and the patient will not survive.
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What specialist treats it?

The medical specialist in charge of taking care of the kidneys and urinary tract is called Nephrologist. This professional is in charge of knowing if the kidneys are affected and studying the cause of the problem, the degree of infection and recommending care and treatments in order to stop the extent of the disease. On the other hand, when the Nephrologist observes that the kidneys are not working properly and cannot eliminate toxins, they start dialysis therapy. In the case of suffering from any symptoms that may indicate that the patient is suffering from renal failure, you can consult Top Doctors to find the medical specialist that best suits your needs.