Written by: Health news

Kidney failure and treatment

There are two types of kidney failure: acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure.

Acute kidney failure which is also known as acute renal failure is a condition that happens suddenly(within a few days) causing the kidneys to lose their ability to perform their functions of eliminating excess salts, water, and harmful products in the blood. 

Chronic kidney failure is a gradual loss of the kidneys to function over time.

When a person has kidney disease, the symptoms begin to appear in stages. Kidney failure is the final stage of chronic kidney disease when the kidney Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) falls below 15. It is also known as an end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and at this stage, the kidney stops functioning properly. Kidneys filter the blood and eliminate the excess wastes from the blood that are directed to the bladder and are removed during urination.

When the kidneys are unable to perform their function sufficiently, toxins can accumulate in the body leading to complications. But, people with kidney failure can survive with dialysis or a kidney transplant.

What causes kidney failure

Kidney failure can happen due to acute injuries (kidney trauma) or chronic diseases that a little by little damage the kidney making them unable to perform their functions effectively. Some common chronic diseases can cause kidney failure. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading chronic diseases that may result in kidney failure. Other diseases that cause kidney failure are lupus, genetic diseases such as polycystic kidney disease, and urinary tract problems.

But in some cases, the kidney can stop functioning suddenly (within 2 to 3 days). This type of kidney failure is called acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. Kidney failure can also be caused by a heart attack, drug abuse, lack of adequate blood flow in the kidney, exposure to toxic environments, and urinary tract infections. 

Symptoms of kidney failure

The following symptoms will be noticed if the kidneys are starting to fail:

  • Fluid retention in the body that causes swelling of legs and ankle because of the inability of the kidneys to get rid of excess water
  • Muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent nausea and fatigue
  • Chest pains
  • Reduced amount of urine
  • Confusion, coma, and loss of consciousness


When a person is diagnosed with kidney failure, the treatment can be dialysis or kidney transplant. There are two different types of dialysis can be done – hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Working with the doctor to understand the best option and the time to begin each solution depending on the remaining functionality of the kidneys is recommended.


Hemolysis is a treatment that eliminates waste materials from the blood. A machine is used to clean the blood at a dialysis center several times a week. The machine can also be used to clean the blood when the patient is at home (home hemodialysis). During this process, the blood is pumped to pass through soft tubes of a dialysis machine. The blood filter is known as a dialyzer (artificial kidney). In hemodialysis, there is an access that allows the blood to come out of the body to be cleaned and it is drawn back into the body. There are 3 types of access that are available: fistula, graft, and Catheter. A fistula is the most recommended access choice and is placed in the body through an operation a few months before the dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis is a home-based treatment that is done daily. The blood is cleaned inside the body.

On the other hand, surgery can be done to transplant a kidney from a healthy kidney donor.

With proper treatment and a better diet, people who suffer from kidney failure can stay between 5 years to 20 or even more. Acute kidney failure can be reversed by using antibiotics for pyelonephritis and transfusion for blood loss. Lastly, hemolysis can be done, or kidney transplants can be done to remove all excess fluids, salt, and other wastes in the blood.