Acute and Chronic Kidney Failure: Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney failure is the kidneys' inability to filter the blood, eliminating bad substances, such as urea or creatinine, for example, that can accumulate in the body when the kidneys are not working well.

Renal failure can be acute or chronic, the acute one being characterized by a rapid reduction in renal function, while in chronic one there is a gradual loss of kidney function, caused by factors such as dehydration, urinary infection, hypertension or urine obstruction, by example.

Generally, acute renal failure is curable, but chronic renal failure is not always curable and treatment is usually done through hemodialysis or kidney transplantation to improve the patient's quality of life and promote well-being. See how it is done and how is the recovery from kidney transplantation.

Symptoms of kidney failure

Renal failure can manifest itself through several symptoms, depending on whether acute or chronic, such as:

Signs of acute renal failure:

  • Little urine, dark yellow and with a strong smell;
  • Easy tiredness and shortness of breath;
  • Pain in the lower back;
  • Swelling of the legs and feet;
  • Easy tiredness with shortness of breath;
  • High pressure;
  • Fever higher than 39ºC;
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Lack of appetite and presence of nausea and vomiting;
  • Small lumps on the skin.

In addition, changes in blood and urine tests may appear, and the presence of proteins in the urine can be identified, in addition to altered values ​​of urea, creatinine, sodium and potassium in the blood. Learn how to identify kidney malfunction.

Signs of chronic renal failure:

  • Willingness to urinate frequently, especially at night, waking up to urinate;
  • Strong smelling urine and foam;
  • Very high blood pressure that can result in stroke or heart failure;
  • Feeling of very high body weight;
  • Tremors, especially in the hands;
  • Intense tiredness;
  • Weak muscles;
  • Frequent cramps;
  • Tingling in the hands and feet;
  • Loss of sensitivity;
  • Convulsions;
  • Yellowish skin;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Development of a small white layer on the skin, similar to powder, as urea crystallizes in sweat.

When observing these symptoms, it is advisable to consult with a nephrologist so that tests can be ordered to diagnose kidney failure and thus indicate the appropriate treatment.

The diagnosis can be made based on symptoms and tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance, computed tomography, in addition to urine and blood tests, such as analysis of potassium, urea and creatinine. See how blood creatinine is measured and reference values.

Main causes

Acute and chronic kidney failure can happen due to:

  • Decreased amount of blood in the kidney due to dehydration, kidney malfunction or low blood pressure;
  • Kidney damage due to kidney stones or toxic substances like drugs;
  • Interruption of the passage of urine, caused by an enlarged prostate or the presence of a tumor.
  • Sepsis, in which bacteria reach the kidney and other parts of the body, which can cause damage to the organ;
  • Polycystic kidney disease, which is characterized by the presence of several cysts in the kidney, which can impair its functioning;
  • Use of medications and protein supplements in excess, as they may cause damage to the organ or interfere with one of its functions;
  • Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which is a disease caused by a toxin produced by some bacteria and resulting in damage to blood vessels, hemolytic anemia and progressive loss of kidney function

The people who are most likely to develop kidney failure are those who are diabetic or hypertensive and who do not follow the proper treatment indicated by the doctor. In addition, family history of kidney problems or people who have had a transplant before or are over 60 years of age are also more likely to develop this disease. See other causes of kidney failure.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for renal failure should be guided by the nephrologist and nutritionist, and can be done at home or in the hospital, depending on the severity of the disease. Learning to live with a chronic illness such as kidney failure is a delicate and time-consuming process that requires a lot of dedication and effort.

Most of the time, treatment is done with the use of drugs such as antihypertensive drugs and diuretics, such as Furosemide, for example. In addition, a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in protein, salt and potassium should be maintained, which should be indicated by a nutritionist. Learn more about treating kidney failure.

In more severe cases, such as chronic renal failure, it may be necessary to perform a kidney transplant or undergo hemodialysis, which is a procedure that aims to filter the blood, removing all impurities that the kidneys cannot filter. See how hemodialysis is done.

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