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Kidney failure, also known as renal failure is a condition in which the kidneys suddenly become unable to filter waste from the blood. As a result, kidneys lose their filtering ability leading to dangerous levels of waste accumulation in the body. In such cases, your blood’s chemical makeup gets out of balance. This condition is most prevalent in people who are already hospitalized due to critical illness.

If you are diagnosed with kidney failure this signifies that 80-90% of your kidney function is gone. Although there are no significant cures for this condition other than a kidney transplant, you can live long with proper treatment (dialysis) and a healthy diet.

Kidney Failure Symptoms

Mostly in the early stages, kidney failure symptoms are not much noticeable. In fact, 85-90% of the people suffering from chronic kidney disease do not possess a fair idea of their condition. However, as soon as the kidney disease progresses, the possible kidney failure symptoms as noticed by the patients are enlisted below:

  • a reduced amount of urine
  • swelling of legs, ankles, and feet due to fluid retention because kidney failure does not allow the water waste to eliminate
  • shortness of breath
  • excessive drowsiness and fatigue
  • persistent nausea
  • dilemma and difficulty in thinking
  • pain and pressure in the chest
  • seizures


Kidney Stones

What Happens when Kidneys Fail?

As mentioned above, the early stages of kidney failure are difficult to find out because mostly the appearance of symptoms is gradual. The early stages of kidney failure include decreased urine output, shortness of breath, and swelling in the legs due to waste fluid retention. Also, if the urine appears foamy with a lot of bubbles, it is mostly indicating that the urine is containing a lot of protein and hence it can be a sign of kidney disease.

Mostly, if your kidneys are failing to work properly, you will be able to notice one or more of the following signs:

  • Fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • A consistent upset stomach accompanied by vomiting
  • Confusion and trouble in understanding

The failure of the kidney is not an overnight process. This condition develops gradually, therefore the symptoms usually show up later in the progression of the disease. Therefore, when kidneys start to fail, you might experience the following:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Itching
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle cramps (especially in the legs)
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Anemia

Causes of Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is caused due to numerous reasons, however, as per the survey conducted by the National Kidney Foundation, the two most common causes of kidney failure are high blood pressure and diabetes.

Loss of blood flow to the kidney: Kidney failure can be a result of loss of blood flow to the kidney. A few conditions that can lead to this condition include heart attack, chronic heart disease, liver failure, acute dehydration, severe burns, allergic reactions, escalated cases of infection (sepsis), scarring of the liver, etc. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medications and high blood pressure can also limit blood flow to the kidneys.

Urine elimination problems: When the body finds it difficult to eliminate urine toxins, the kidneys get overloaded. Some cancers can block the urine passageways, such as prostate, colon, cervical, bladder, etc. Other conditions that can interfere with urination and lead to kidney failure include kidney stones, blood clots, enlarged prostate, and damaged nerves that control the bladder.

Other causes: Some other factors that lead to kidney failure include infection (sepsis), heavy metal poisoning, consumption of excessive drugs and alcohol, vasculitis, lupus, scleroderma, diabetes, intake of chemotherapy drugs, etc.

Stages of Kidney Disease and Failure

Stage 1: The stage is mild with minimal or no visible symptoms. This stage can be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You need to introduce work out and a balanced diet and stop the consumption of tobacco and alcohol to improve the condition.

Stage 2: This stage is still a mild form but a few of the visible symptoms, including protein in urine or pain in the stomach can be observed. The same lifestyle approaches as followed in stage 1.

Stage 3: At this stage, the kidneys stop functioning the way they should. Therefore, the symptoms become more evident in this stage, such as swelling and pain in the feet, decreased urine frequency, etc. You should immediately consult a doctor and consider medications along with a healthy lifestyle to cure this phase.

Stage 4: This stage of kidney disease is considered moderate to severe. Although, in this stage, the kidneys stop functioning well it cannot be considered a kidney failure yet. In this stage, the evident kidney failure symptoms might include anemia, high blood pressure, etc.

Stage 5: In this stage, the kidneys are approaching failure or in complete failure. In such a condition, you will develop vomiting, nausea, breathing difficulties, and all other evident symptoms. At this stage, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Treatment of Kidney Failure

When you noticed kidney failure symptoms and the doctor diagnoses it as the last stage, you need to opt for any of the following below treatments associated with this condition:

Dialysis: In this process, the blood is filtered and purified using a machine. This machine acts as a kidney. The doctors usually advise a low potassium and low salt diet while undergoing dialysis. However, you must know that dialysis is not a cure for kidney failure and it can extend your life if timely dialysis is scheduled along with proper medications.

Kidney transplant: In this process, the failed kidney is replaced with a donor kidney that is compatible with your body. After this surgery, the patient mostly does not require dialysis. However, this is a very critical surgery and you have to consume immunosuppressant drugs so that the body does not reject the kidney.


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