Kidney failure means that the kidneys cannot remove soluble waste products from the body. The most important thing about this condition is to find it in time. Find out what the disease is, how you can cure it, and how you can protect yourself.
What are the functions of the kidneys?
The two kidneys are located in the back of the abdominal cavity, on both sides of the spine beneath the ribs. Their task is to filter the blood and remove the urine, composed of water and waste, from the vital activities of the body.
The urine produced by the kidneys moves to the bladder by two thin tubes – the ureters (also known as the urinary tract). The elastic bladder walls allow it to stretch and store the urine and then eject it through the urethra (urinary canal).
The role of the kidneys in removing excess water, salts, and waste products from the body is also related to their other function, maintaining a steady balance – homeostasis of salt content and other substances within the blood. Both kidneys also stimulate the production of red blood cells, support bone strength, and remove many of the medicine we ingest.
What is kidney failure?
Kidney failure is reduced kidney function. Depending on how it occurs, there are two types:
- Acute kidney failure stops urine output from several hours to several days, but the condition is reversible and treatable.
One of the frequent reasons for it is due to a blockage of the blood flow to the kidneys due to allergic shock, severe bleeding, or a blockage of a kidney blood vessel. This type of deficiency is also caused by kidney disease or damage due to toxins and drugs. Urinary tract obstruction, which prevents urine flow, can also lead to acute kidney failure.
Acute kidney failure occurs when there is a substantial decrease in the urine output of fewer than 500 ml per day (oliguria), or less than 150 ml per day (anuria). As a result of the problematic blood purification, the concentration of nitrogenous substances (urea, creatinine) increases.
This causes digestive disturbances, fatigue, dizziness, and can even cause seizures or a coma. The symptoms may include having a brown-colored tongue, difficulty breathing, increased heartbeat, swelling around the body. This could lead to a heart attack.
Treatment is a must to prevent chronic kidney failure.
- Chronic kidney failure occurs slowly and gradually as a result of the most common chronic diseases that permanently damage the kidneys.
Chronic kidney failure affects people of different ages, including children. The most affected are diabetics suffering from prolonged hypertension, from inflamed or drug-damaged kidneys, or people with metabolic disturbances.
The cause of the development of chronic kidney failure is the impairment of the kidneys’ work unit – nephron, in which the blood is filtered out and urine is excreted (there are 1.2 million nephrons in one kidney).
Thus, toxic nitrogen-containing substances that are created as a result of the exchange of proteins accumulate in the body. The liquid is also retained, the balance of salt content and other elements in the blood is disturbed, and red blood cell production decreases as well as bone density.
What are the stages of chronic kidney failure?
Chronic kidney failure begins with a long-term “compensation stage” when the nitrogen content in the blood (creatinine and urea) has a normal concentration, and the urinary system still deals with its “tasks.”
The patient usually does not suspect the presence of a disease, and polyuria occurs when more urine (3 and more liters per day) is released because the kidneys are unable to concentrate it. Due to the release of large volumes of water, a thirst will follow.
During the next stage in the blood, nitrogenous substances accumulate above the average values, but healthy nephrons work at higher ones and somewhat compensate for the inactivity of the injured ones.
The next stage is when the first complaints of the patient appear, as the increased content of nitrogenous substances in the blood causes a state of the so-called uremia. In an attempt to separate the accumulated urea, the body releases it through the mucous membranes and tissues, causing inflammation.
During the final stage, there are complaints due to advanced uremia no longer responding to drugs. The typical release for a small amount of urine per day is 100-400 ml or even less.
Fatigue, nausea, drowsiness, and mental issues also appear. Because of fluid retention in the body, weight increases and the swelling of the limbs and face occurs.
There may be shortness of breath due to pulmonary edema. Other symptoms include hypertension, vomiting, fatigue, pale yellow skin, a tendency to bleed, and bone pain.
How is it detected and treated?
Chronic kidney failure is best detected through blood and urine testing. The particular successfulness in diagnosis is the study of the eyes by an ophthalmologist.
In patients with chronic kidney failure, the doctor prescribes a diet with reduced protein but with added essential amino acids. Limiting fat, dairy products, salt, and the potassium-containing food is also necessary.
- At the initial phase, the primary kidney disease is treated, which is the cause of kidney failure – the different types of nephritis.
- During the advanced stages, the symptoms of the illness, like anemia (because of the red blood cells reduction), high blood pressure, homeostatic disorders, and metabolism issues, are treated. The next measures are blood hemodialysis or kidney transplants.
Can we protect ourselves?
You should be alert when you suffer from frequent urinary infections, have an autoimmune disease, congenital kidney abnormalities, diabetes mellitus, prolonged high blood pressure, or if you take medicine that is toxic to kidneys. In all of these cases, your doctor should initiate regular examinations over a period of time.
A blood test will show signs of kidney failure at an early stage when there are no definite signs, and the treatment can be more effective.