What Is Renal Failure? – Definition, Causes, Type and Symptoms
Renal failure is a condition in which the kidney loses its ability to filter fluids and food debris. When this condition occurs, toxic levels and harmful liquids will accumulate in the body and can be bad if not treated.
The kidneys are a pair of organs that resemble peanuts located on the lower back. Its main function is to filter out toxins and food debris and send it to the intestine, to then be dumped through the urine. If the kidneys can not function, because the cause will be explained in the next section, then the condition of renal failure occurs. The only way to get rid of this condition is by doing a kidney transplant.
The kidneys also produce certain hormones that have important functions in the body, including the following:
- Active form of vitamin D (calcitriol or 1,25 dihydroxy-vitamin D), which regulates absorption of calcium and phosphorus from foods, promoting formation of strong bone.
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
- Renin, which regulates blood volume and blood pressure in association with aldosterone manufactred in the adrenal glands, located just above the kidneys.
Causes of Renal Failure
The causes of renal failure can be grouped into three groups:
- Renal failure due to damage to the kidney
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus cause a condition called diabetic nephropathy, which is the leading cause of kidney disease in the United States.
- High blood pressure (hypertension), if not controlled, can damage the kidneys over time.
- Glomerulonephritis is the inflammation and damage of the filtration system of the kidneys, which can cause kidney failure. Postinfectious conditions and lupus are among the many causes of glomerulonephritis.
- Polycystic kidney disease is a hereditary cause of chronic kidney disease wherein both kidneys have multiple cysts.
- Use of analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve) regularly over long durations of time can cause analgesic nephropathy, another cause of kidney disease. Certain other medications can also damage the kidneys.
- Clogging and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) leading to the kidneys causes a condition called ischemic nephropathy, which is another cause of progressive kidney damage.
- Renal failure caused by loss of blood flow to the kidney
The sudden loss of blood to the kidneys can cause the kidney to stop functioning and is a common cause for acute kidney disease. This condition is usually caused by certain diseases such as arterial stenosis (narrowing or blockage of the renal artery), hardening (cirrhosis) of the liver, heart attack, coronary heart disease, body fluids (dehydration), cholesterol heap, burns, infections and allergic reactions.
- Difficulty to urinate causing renal failure
Difficulty to urinate is usually caused by a blockage that increases pressure on the kidneys and disrupts its function. Some types of cancers such as colon, prostate, intestine and cervical (cervical) cancers, and kidney stones, frozen blood and large prostate can block the flow of urine
Other causes of chronic kidney disease include HIV infection, sickle cell disease, heroin abuse, amyloidosis, kidney stones, chronic kidney infections, and certain cancers.
Types and Symptoms of Renal Failure
The symptoms that appear usually depend on the type of renal failure experienced by the patient. In general, there are two types of renal failure:
- Acute renal failure
Acute renal failure is a condition that occurs when the kidney suddenly stops functioning. Symptoms that arise from this condition such as:
- Difficult urination
- Swelling of the lower organs (legs)
- The loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feelings of anxiety, confusion, and drowsiness
- Pain on the side of the body or back under the ribs
- Chronic renal failure
Chronic conditions refer to conditions in which the disease progresses and worsens over a considerable period of time. This is usually the result of several factors leading to permanent loss of kidney function and diminished kidney size. Some of the common symptoms of this condition :
- Lack of red blood cells (Anemia)
- Urinary (dark) urine or blood in urine
- Reduced frequency of urination
- Swelling of body parts
- Difficulty sleeping (Insomnia)
- Itching of the skin
- The loss of appetite
- Muscle cramp
- Pain on the side of the body
- Abnormal protein levels in urine
- Unexplained headaches
- Changes in body weight all of a sudden
- High blood pressure
- Failure of erectile function in men
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