Everything You Need to Know About Kidney Failure

What is kidney failure?

Your kidneys are a pair of organs located toward your lower back. One kidney is on each side of your spine. They filter your blood and remove toxins from your body. Kidneys send toxins to your bladder, which your body later removes toxins during urination.

Kidney failure occurs when your kidneys lose the ability to sufficiently filter waste from your blood. Many factors can interfere with your kidney health and function, such as:

  • toxic exposure to environmental pollutants or certain medications
  • certain acute and chronic diseases
  • severe dehydration
  • kidney trauma

Your body becomes overloaded with toxins if your kidneys can’t do their regular job. This can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Symptoms of kidney failure

Usually someone with kidney failure will have a few symptoms of the disease. Sometimes no symptoms are present. Possible symptoms include:

  • a reduced amount of urine
  • swelling of your legs, ankles, and feet from retention of fluids caused by the failure of the kidneys to eliminate water waste
  • unexplained shortness of breath
  • excessive drowsiness or fatigue
  • persistent nausea
  • confusion
  • pain or pressure in your chest
  • seizures
  • coma

Early signs of kidney failure

Symptoms of early stage kidney disease may be difficult to pinpoint. They’re often subtle and hard to identify. If you experience early signs of kidney disease, they may include:

Causes of kidney failure

Kidney failure can be the result of several conditions or causes. The cause typically also determines the type of kidney failure.

People who are most at risk usually have one or more of the following causes:

Loss of blood flow to the kidneys

A sudden loss of blood flow to your kidneys can prompt kidney failure. Some conditions that cause loss of blood flow to the kidneys include:

High blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also limit blood flow.

Urine elimination problems

When your body can’t eliminate urine, toxins build up and overload the kidneys. Some cancers can block the urine passageways, such as:

Other conditions can interfere with urination and possibly lead to kidney failure, including:

Other causes

Some other things that may lead to kidney failure include:

  • blood clot in or around your kidneys
  • infection
  • an overload of toxins from heavy metals
  • drugs and alcohol
  • vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels
  • lupus, an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation of many body organs
  • glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the small blood vessels of the kidneys
  • hemolytic uremic syndrome, which involves the breakdown of red blood cells following a bacterial infection, usually of the intestines
  • multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in your bone marrow
  • scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that affects your skin
  • thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a disorder that causes blood clots in small vessels
  • chemotherapy drugs that treat cancer and some autoimmune diseases
  • dyes used in some imaging tests
  • certain antibiotics
  • uncontrolled diabetes

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