Acute Kidney Failure

Kidneys are the organs that filter out the excess salts, fluids, and other waste materials from your blood. When your kidneys suddenly lose the ability to filter the wastes suddenly from your blood. This is called acute renal failure or acute kidney failure. In such conditions, the fluids in your body can rise to dangerous levels. The condition can also lead to accumulation of electrolytes and other waste material in your body, which may be life-threatening.

Acute kidney failure is also known as acute kidney injury and it may develop rapidly within a few hours to days. The condition is commonly seen in people who are hospitalised, critically ill and in need of intensive care. Most of the people may not experience any symptoms until the condition has gone worse. Acute kidney failure can turn out to be life-threatening and intensive treatment is necessary. However, the condition is reversible if your health is in good condition.

Signs & Symptoms Of Acute Renal Failure

The signs & symptoms of acute renal failure include:

  • Decreased urine output but occasionally it remains normal
  • Fluid retention that causes swelling in your legs, ankles or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomitings
  • Bruising easily
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Metallic taste in your mouth
  • Decreased sensation, particularly in your hands or feet
  • Bloody stools
  • Breath odour
  • Slow and sluggish movements

Sometimes acute renal failure or acute kidney failure can go symptomless and is detected through tests done for other problems.

Causes of acute renal Failure

There were many reasons for acute kidney failure. Here are some of the most common reasons for acute renal failure:

  • Acute tubular necrosis (ATN)
  • Severe dehydration
  • Toxic kidney damage due to poisons or certain medications
  • Autoimmune kidney diseases
  • Urinary tract problems

Reduction of blood flow can also damage your kidneys. Conditions like dehydration, low blood pressure, haemorrhage, Injury may lower the blood flow to your kidneys.

Certain disorders can damage your kidneys, and this can cause acute kidney failure. The conditions include:

  • Blood clots in the veins and arteries surrounding the kidneys
  • Excess cholesterol deposits blocking the blood flow in the kidneys
  • Lupus, an immune system disorder
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • Infection
  • Certain medications used during imaging tests like chemotherapy drugs,
  • antibiotics and dyes
  • Blood disorders
  • Usage of toxins like alcohol and cocaine
  • Rhabdomyolysis – muscle tissue breakdown
  • tumour lysis syndrome – the breakdown of tumour cells

Some infectious diseases like septicemia and acute pyelonephritis can damage your kidneys directly.

Treatment For Acute Kidney Failure

The treatment for acute kidney failure depends on the cause. The aim of kidney failure treatment is to restore normal functioning of kidneys. Removing the fluids and wastes accumulated in your body during your kidneys recover is very important. In most of the cases, a nephrologist, kidney specialist can evaluate your problem and provide proper treatment.

Special diet

You need to follow certain diet limiting the liquids you consume. This helps to reduce the accumulation of toxins which are normally filtered by kidneys. A diet rich in carbohydrates and low protein, salt, and potassium values is recommended.


A kidney doctor may prescribe certain antibiotics to treat or prevent infections, diuretics to eliminate fluid and calcium and insulin to prevent the rise of blood potassium levels.


It is a process to remove the toxins from your blood. In the case of acute kidney failure, while your kidneys heal, toxins and excess fluids build up in your blood is extracted through hemodialysis, simply called dialysis. Dialysis might also help to eliminate excess potassium reserves from your body. During dialysis, your blood routed to an artificial kidney called a dialyzer that filters out waste and then returned to your body.