Our bodies are made to function at best when in a state of balance. We also have a fascinating means of maintaining that balance. One method of doing this is the filtration system we know of as our kidneys.
What is kidney failure (renal failure)?
The kidneys function to filter our blood and remove the waste products that are produced through the natural process of metabolism. Metabolism is the process of burning the calories that we ingest with the food we eat, providing energy for the activities of daily living.
As blood circulates through our kidneys, the kidneys, when functioning properly, filter out the toxins that are created through this action. These toxins are then released into the bladder with the excess fluid that is also removed from the kidneys. During urination, the toxins as well as the excess fluid are finally eliminated from our bodies.
If for some reason, the kidneys fail to perform this much needed function, we call that kidney, or renal failure. Kidney failure allows a build up of toxic elements in our bodies, which can lead to numerous health issues and if not treated effectively even death.
Two types of kidney failure (renal failure)
Renal failure has been categorized into two types.
- Acute renal failure
- Chronic renal failure
Acute renal failure is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms. Those symptoms may be exhibited over a period of a few days to a few months, and is readily diagnosed by a blood test that shows an increase in the creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels.
Acute renal failure is treatable and often times curable. When acute renal failure is caused by such things as kidney stones, or severe infection it can usually be corrected easily enough. As a result of these conditions urine flow is diminished from the kidneys into the bladder to be eliminated as waste.
Other causes of acute renal failure may not be so easily treated. These maladies may be the result of vascular disease, disease of the tubules, or acute tubular necrosis. These can be treated and sometimes cures can be attained, but they may also be the result of other health factors that cannot be addressed satisfactorily.
Chronic renal failure is a disease process that has been ongoing for a longer length of time. It may also be the result of the processes described for acute renal failure, but can often be from different causes as well. Chronic kidney failure symptoms are frequently overlooked because they are milder than the ones exhibited during an acute episode, and are frequently not recognized until it is too late to correct the condition.
Renal Failure and Its Symptoms
Acute Kidney Failure Symptoms/ Acute Renal Failure (ARF)
Acure renal failure is often associated with the elderly, patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, weight concerns, and kidney or liver disease.
Acute kidney failure symptoms or ARF may exhibit themselves in the following ways.
- Feelings restlessness or ill at ease
- Nausea and or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual swelling of the feet or legs
- Sudden decrease of urine output
- Pain in the back, above the waist or under the ribcage often intensifying to unbearable.
- Excessive thirst and dry mouth.
- Dizziness upon standing.
- Rapid heart rate.
Symptoms of Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
Due to the mild onset of symptoms, and the bodies amazing ability to adapt over time, it is often difficult to diagnose this condition.
Following is a list of common symptoms of CRF and can be exhibited separately or in combination.
- Decrease in amount and frequency of urination and marked color change.
- Bloating of the entire body including the face hands and feet.
- Feeling of tiredness including after rest.
- Itching as well as skin eruptions.
- Nausea and vomiting as well as loss of appetite.
- Bad breath.
- Ongoing shortness of breath.
- Inability to regulate body temperature.
- Loss of concentration.
- Back pain usually located on either side.
- Frequent muscle cramps.
- High blood pressure.
- Excess thirst.
- Pallor of skin or nails.
It is common for a patient with CRF to feel the urge to urinate frequently during the night. Urine output may be excessive with pale color, or it could be small amounts that are darker in color than usual, or there could be the urge with no output at all.
A lack of urine output will cause the body to retain the fluids and deposit them in tissues that will result in an overall appearance of puffiness, or swelling, which is most readily visible in the face, hands, feet, legs and ankles.
The diseased kidneys inability to eliminate the toxic waste from the blood allows this waste to build up and the result is a lack of oxygen available to be carried by the blood to the rest of the body. In response, the toxins are deposited in the tissues of the body and as they try to escape through the skin, their presence causes reactions that display themselves as skin eruptions and itching scaly skin.
A lack of oxygen contributes to an inability to catch ones breath. The lungs may also be filled with fluid as a result of the body being unable to eliminate sufficient amounts, which also increases this out of breath feeling. The build up also manifests itself in a foul odor present in the lungs and excreted through the mouth, being recognized as bad breath.
Renal failure is always a serious condition, and can be life threatening if not treated quickly. Although acute renal failure is generally reversible, the conditions that may have caused the episode frequently repeated themselves.
Kidney stones, for example, continue to form even after offending ones have been removed. Preventing them may not be possible since underlying factors, such as heredity cannot be remedied. There are things that can be done though, to reduce the likelihood that stones will grow large enough to interfere with urine flow. Measures as simple as drinking adequate amounts of water are recommended to those at risk of forming stones.
As critical as kidney function is to our general health and well being, it is advisable to seek professional help when symptoms of renal failure are exhibited.