Kidney Failure

What causes kidney failure?

Kidney failure can occur from an acute situation or from chronic problems.

In acute renal failure, kidney function is lost rapidly and can occur from a variety of insults to the body. The list of causes is often categorized based on where the injury has occurred.

Prerenal causes (pre=before + renal=kidney) causes are due to decreased blood supply to the kidney. Examples of prerenal causes of kidney failure are:

  • hypovolemia (low blood volume) due to blood loss;

  • dehydration from loss of body fluid (for example, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fever);

  • poor intake of fluids;

  • medication, for example, diuretics ("water pills") may cause excessive water loss; and

  • abnormal blood flow to and from the kidney due to obstruction of the renal artery or vein.
Reviewed on 2/4/2013

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