- Acute kidney failure (AKF) usually responds well to treatment, and kidney function often returns to almost normal.
- Chronic kidney failure (CKF) usually does not improve, but can be managed with treatments such as dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Understanding the types of kidney failure
Acute kidney failure (AKF)
- Kidneys lose their function suddenly, typically within a few hours or days, but the condition is often temporary.
- Most common causes include: hypovolemic shock due to blood loss, severe vomiting and dehydration, blockage of the urinary tract, poisoning, sepsis, kidney infections, heart or liver failure, etc.
Chronic kidney failure (CKF)
- Damage to the kidneys occurs over years and kidney function worsens, eventually leading to permanent kidney failure.
- Most common causes include: diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune diseases (such as lupus), glomerulonephritis, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced kidney failure, recurrent kidney stones, polycystic kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, etc.
How is kidney failure diagnosed?
In addition to physical examination and medical history, tests that are used to diagnose kidney failure include:
- Blood tests to determine estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), blood cell counts, creatinine, and electrolyte levels
- Urine test for albumin, glucose, and red or white blood cells
- Blood pressure check
- Chest X-ray
- Imaging tests such as a renal ultrasound, body computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) or CT urography, and body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Renal scintigraphy
- Kidney biopsy
How is kidney failure treated?
Treatment options vary and depend on the cause and extent of the disease.
- Acute renal failure: Cause of the disease is treated to normalize kidney function. Dialysis may be needed for a short time.
- Chronic renal failure: Treating chronic medical conditions can slow the progression of kidney failure. However, once the kidneys fail completely, treatment options are limited to dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Options for treatment include treating the cause of renal failure and replacing renal function:
- Dialysis: Blood is pumped through a machine that filters out waste and excess fluid and then returns the blood to the body. Dialysis does not cure kidney failure, but it may help improve a patient’s quality of life. There are two types of dialysis:
- Hemodialysis: A catheter (tube) is inserted into one of the veins in the neck, arm, or leg. Hemodialysis is most often performed at a hospital or dialysis clinic 3 times a week for 3-4 hours at a time.
- Peritoneal dialysis: Uses the lining of the abdomen to filter the blood using a dialysis solution and catheter. This treatment can be done at home.
- Kidney transplant: A kidney transplant is the most complete and effective way to replace kidney function but may not be suitable for all patients. In kidney transplant surgery, doctors use a healthy kidney from a living donor or deceased donor to replace the damaged kidney in the patient’s body. Patients can live well with one healthy kidney.
- Interventional radiological procedures such as ureteral stenting and nephrostomy: Doctors perform these procedures if they identify a block as the cause for renal failure. These procedures involve inserting either a small stent into the ureter(s) or connecting a tube to an external drainage bag. Both procedures unblock the ureters and allow urine to flow from the kidneys.
- Surgical treatment: Other procedures to treat renal failure include kidney stone removal.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Can a Person Recover From Kidney Failure Related Articles
Can Drinking Water Stop Kidney Failure?While drinking more water can help boost kidney function, there is no evidence that suggests that it can prevent the progress of kidney failure.
Can You Live a Normal Life After Donating a Kidney?Kidney donor surgery is considered a very low-risk surgery with few major complications. People who have donated a kidney can lead active and full lives.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)Chronic kidney disease (CKD), or chronic kidney failure, is slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years. CKD is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively.
dopamineDopamine is a medication administered intravenously to correct imbalances in the blood circulation dynamics (hemodynamics) caused by heart attack (myocardial infarction), cardiac arrest, open-heart surgery, trauma, septic shock, kidney failure, and decompensated heart failure. Side effects of dopamine include cardiovascular effects (chest pain [angina pectoris], high or low blood pressure [hypertension/hypotension] and others), nausea, vomiting, excessive urination, elevation of creatinine/blood urea nitrogen (BUN), increase in blood glucose levels, anxiety, headache, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and others. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
furosemideFurosemide is a diuretic medicine that doctors prescribe to treat excess accumulation of fluid or swelling of the body (edema) caused by cirrhosis, chronic kidney failure, heart failure, and kidney disease. Common side effects of furosemide are low blood pressure, dehydration and electrolyte depletion (for example, sodium, potassium). Do not take if breastfeeding. Consult your doctor if pregnant.
How Long Do Kidney Transplants Last?The duration for which a transplanted kidney lasts may vary from person to person. On average, kidney transplants may last for around 10-12 years.
hydrochlorothiazideHydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic drug prescribed to treat high blood pressure, edema caused by heart failure, cirrhosis, chronic kidney failure, nephrotic syndrome, and corticosteroid medications. Side effects of hydrochlorothiazide include weakness, low blood pressure, light sensitivity (rash caused by sunlight), impotence, nausea, and abdominal pain. Thiazides may increase the risk of fetal or neonatal jaundice, low platelet levels, and possibly other adverse reactions.
Kidney Disease QuizKidney disease is common. Take this kidney disease quiz to test your knowledge and learn the symptoms, causes and types of kidney disease and what foods to eat and avoid!
Kidney (Renal) Failure
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss, dehydration, or medication. Some of the renal causes of kidney failure include sepsis, medications, rhabdomyolysis, multiple myeloma, and acute glomerulonephritis.
Post renal causes of kidney failure include bladder obstruction, prostate problems, tumors, or kidney stones.Treatment options included diet, medications, or dialysis.
Kidney Stone SlideshowWhat causes kidney stones? Where is kidney stone pain located on your body? Learn the symptoms and signs of kidney stone pain. Explore kidney stone treatment and how to prevent kidney stones.
Kidneys PictureThe kidneys are a pair of organs located in the back of the abdomen. See a picture of the Kidneys and learn more about the health topic.
Lasix Side EffectsLasix (furosemide) is a potent diuretic (water pill) used to treat excess fluid or swelling of the body (edema) caused by cirrhosis, chronic kidney failure, heart failure, and kidney disease. Furosemide is also used in conjunction with other blood pressure medications to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Common side effects of furosemide include low blood pressure, dehydration, electrolyte depletion, yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), sensitivity to light, rash, pancreatitis, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness, increased blood sugar, and increased uric acid levels. Serious side effects of furosemide include severe anaphylactic shock, necrotizing angiitis, interstitial nephritis, hearing loss, anemia, low white blood cells, low blood platelets, among others.
How Long Can a Nephrostomy Tube Remain in the Kidney?A nephrostomy tube can remain in the kidney as long as the obstruction in your urinary tract does not get relieved. It may need to stay in for a short time such as till a stone passes naturally. It may be needed for only two to three days, or it may need to stay in for a much longer period to allow a more permanent solution for the blockage to be organized.
Thiazides (Diuretics)Thiazide diuretics are drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure and reduce edema (fluid accumulation) in the body. Side effects of thiazide diuretics include dizziness and lightheadedness, blurred vision, loss of appetite, itching, stomach upset, headache, and weakness. Diuretic drug names include chlorthalidone (Thalitone), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), and methyclothiazide. Thiazide diuretics are similar in effectiveness and usually are not effective in people with severe renal impairment.
torsemideTorsemide is a medication used to reduce fluid retention and swelling (edema) associated with conditions such as heart failure, kidney disease, and liver disease (cirrhosis). Torsemide is also used to manage high blood pressure (hypertension), but not for the initial treatment of hypertension. Common side effects of torsemide include excessive urination (polyuria), electrolyte imbalances, headache, dizziness, nasal inflammation (rhinitis), cough, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion (dyspepsia), nervousness, and insomnia. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ways to Keep Your Kidneys HealthyYou might know that more than a drink or two a day is bad for your health. But in some cases, any alcohol at all may not be a great idea.
What Can Patients With Kidney Failure Eat?If you have kidney failure, you need to be even more careful about your diet. Learn about what foods to avoid with kidney disease.
What Is a Kidney Ureter Bladder X-Ray Study?A kidney, ureter, and bladder (KUB) X-ray is a diagnostic test that is used for detecting kidney stones and diagnosing multiple disorders of the urinary tract. This diagnostic examination is usually done by injecting contrast media in your veins. The test is usually done on an outpatient basis and you can resume your daily activities as soon as you have finished the scans.
What Level of BUN Indicates Kidney Failure?Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is one of the parameters measured to ascertain kidney function. BUN indicates the urea nitrogen produced in the body during protein breakdown. There is no definite value of BUN that would diagnose kidney failure.