Acute Renal Failure – Major Symptoms And Causes!

Renal failure is an illness condition of the body in which the kidneys fail to perform their most important function of filtering blood. Diseased kidneys mostly do not suddenly stop filtering blood.

The glomerular filtration rate GFR drops in stages from 100 % to less than 20 % when the disease becomes very severe. Chronic kidney diseases CKDs normally don’t at once reach the third stage. There is a progression from the first primary stage and severe the last third stage. 

Acute Renal Failure – Major Symptoms And Causes!


Symptoms of kidney disease start showing up from the first stage. If CKD is controlled from the first stage, it is possible to prevent progression and even restore normal kidney health. Acute renal failure is a condition in which a kidney’s filtration capacity is lost entirely suddenly. 

Acute Renal Failure - Major Symptoms And Causes

Symptoms of acute renal failure

According to KDIGO, acute kidney illness AKI is a sudden decrease in kidney function that takes place in over seven days or less. KDIGO describes chronic kidney disease CKD as a persistent kidney illness condition that develops over a period of more than 90 days. 

In AKI condition, if one kidney entirely stops filtering, the other kidney may function partially or completely. Blood may continue to get filtered, although not like when both the kidneys were filtering normally. Hence even when one kidney fails acutely, the body can still live on with one kidney functioning. However, several symptoms will start showing up:

Fluids build-up

When the body cannot cleanse wastes and fluid at a normal rate, parts of the body can show swelling like ankles, feet and legs.

  • Flank and abdomen pain

Fluid pressure build-up can cause pain in the abdomen and flanks.

  • Blood in stool

Retained fluid pressure can cause ruptures inside the lower abdomen, and blood can come out of the stool.

  • Bleeding from nose

Capillaries in the nasal passage can burst due to pressure, and blood can come out.

  • Increase in blood pressure

Decreased rate of excess water discharge causes the blood pressure to go up. High BP, in turn, causes further damage to the kidney.

  • Decrease in urination

The urine output and frequency decrease due to the loss of the ability of the kidney to filter out urine and excess water from each round of blood.

  • Sickness symptoms

Several other symptoms of sickness can start showing up. These can be nausea, vomiting, bad breath, appetite loss, fatigue, hand tremor, metallic taste, hiccups, and seizures.

Causes of acute renal failure

AKI is found to occur in about 20 to 200 people in a million. 7% to 18% of AKI patients are admitted to hospitals, and about 50% are admitted to ICUs. AKI is associated with a high rate of mortality and morbidity. About 2 million people all over the world die of AKI each year.

Those who survive AKI are at high risk of getting CKDs and end-stage kidney illnesses. Medical studies on AKI are fewer than CKD as most kidney illness research has been mostly CKD. However, it has been identified that AKI and CKD show different progression patterns once caused. Causes of acute renal failure have been identified as:

  • High blood pressure

Uncontrolled blood pressure levels above normal put kidney filtration apparatus under extreme pressure putting it at high risk of any time failure.

  • Diabetes

The uncontrolled sugar level in blood above normal is associated with high BP and damage to kidney cells and tissues due to inflammation.

  • Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a set of illness conditions existing together that can cause the kidney to give up. These can be high BP, high blood sugar, obesity, and large body mass around the waist and abdomen, age factors.

  • Blockage of urine flow

When urine flow is blocked for a long enough time, pressure builds up on the kidneys. Urine flow can be blocked due to kidney stones, swelling or obstruction in the urine clearance path.

  • Sudden drop of blood flow to kidneys

If blood flow to kidneys stops suddenly, they can run dry and get dehydrated, and damage can sometimes occur instantly. Reasons for a drop in blood flow can be a severe heart condition, injury.

  • Bad infection like sepsis

Serious infections like sepsis can cause a drop in blood flow and damage to the kidneys.

  • Dehydration

Dehydration causes blood to lose its normal flow. Blood runs thick and sluggish and kidneys don’t get enough flow.

  • Pre-existing urinary illnesses

Pre-existing illnesses, especially urinary illnesses like UTI and haematuria, is known to cause kidney damage without much warning.

  • Severe Constipation

In severe constipation, a large retained mass in the lower abdomen in the large intestine can increase pressure on kidneys. Weak kidneys like in CKD affected or in aged people can be at high risk of damage even due to constipation.

  • Pre-existing CKD

Existing CKD in one or both kidneys can cause sudden failure as CKD can weaken the kidneys and make them more susceptible to effects of other existing illnesses.

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