KIDNEY FAILURE - Watsons Health


Kidneys are the organs that help filter waste products from the blood, and releases it via the urine.  By this process, kidneys help in regulating the blood pressure, electrolyte balance and renal blood cell production in the body.

Acute kidney injury  means that your kidneys have suddenly stopped doing its normal function, such as filtration. When your kidneys stop working, waste products, fluids, and electrolytes build up in your body. This can cause problems that can be deadly.

This disorder occurs in just a few hours or days, and is common in hospitalized people who need critical care.  People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and liver diseases have a higher risk for kidney failure.  Kidney failure can occur when:

  • You have a condition that slows blood flow in the kidneys, such as sepsis.
  • You experience direct damage to your kidneys because of medicines, poisons, or infections.
  • You kidneys’ urine drainage tubes become blocked and waste products can’t leave your body because of kidney stones, tumor, injury, or enlarged prostate gland.

Initially, kidney failure may not show symptoms.  Once the kidneys function decreases, then the symptoms will manifest.

Symptoms of acute kidney injury may include:

  • Little or no urine when you try to urinate
  • Swelling, especially in your legs and feet
  • Drowsiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Not feeling like eating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling confused, anxious and restless, or sleepy
  • Pain in the back just below the rib cage. This is called flank pain.

Some people may not have any symptoms. And for people who are already quite ill, the problem that’s causing the kidney injury may be causing other symptoms.


Acute kidney injury is most often diagnosed during a hospital stay for another cause. If you are already in the hospital, tests done for other problems may find your kidney problem.

If you are not in the hospital but have symptoms of kidney injury, your doctor will ask about your symptoms, what medicines you take, and what tests you have had. Your symptoms can help point to the cause of your kidney problem.

Certain tests will be recommended by your doctor to verify your diagnosis, this include:

  • Urine output measurements. The amount of urine you excrete in a day may help your doctor determine the cause of your kidney failure.
  • Urine tests. Urine tests may be ordered to measure the amount of protein, detect the presence of abnormal cells, or measure the concentration of electrolytes.
  • Blood tests. Diagnosis of kidney failure can be confirmed by blood tests such as BUN, creatinine, and GFR; that measure the buildup of waste products in the blood.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests such as ultrasound and computerized tomography may be used to help your doctor see your kidneys.
  • Removing a sample of kidney tissue for testing. In some situations, your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to remove a small sample of kidney tissue for lab testing.



Your doctor or a kidney specialist (nephrologist) will try to treat the problem that is causing your kidney injury. Treatment can vary widely, depending on the cause.

At the same time, the doctor will try to prevent complications until your kidneys recover by:

  • Treatments to balance the amount of fluids in your blood. In other cases, acute kidney failure may cause you to have too much fluid, leading to swelling in your arms and legs. In these cases, your doctor may recommend medications (diuretics) to cause your body to expel extra fluids.
  • Medications to control blood potassium. If your kidneys aren’t properly filtering potassium from your blood, your doctor may prescribe calcium, glucose or sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Kayexalate, Kionex) to prevent the accumulation of high levels of potassium in your blood.
  • Medications to restore blood calcium levels. If the levels of calcium in your blood drop too low, your doctor may recommend an infusion of calcium.
  • Dialysis to remove toxins from the body. To stop wastes from building up in your body, you may have to undergo dialysis.

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