Renal failure is a condition that can take two different forms: acute, when kidney failure develops suddenly, and chronic, when the disease develops slowly over at least three months. Acute renal failure can develop into chronic renal failure. In acute and chronic renal failure, the kidneys are not able to perform the functions necessary for the body so that it remains healthy. Despite this similarity, the causes, symptoms, and treatment of acute and chronic renal failure vary widely. Learn about the symptoms and causes of this disease and learn to distinguish acute from chronic if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with kidney failure.
Part 1 of 2: Recognizing the Symptoms of Kidney Failure
Step 1. Pay attention to changes in urination
Both acute and chronic forms of renal failure are often accompanied by an increase or decrease in urine output. In particular, chronic renal failure is associated with urinary incontinence and / or recurrent urinary tract infection. Damage to the renal tubules leads to polyuria. Polyuria is an overproduction of urine that usually occurs during the early stages of kidney failure. Chronic renal failure can also cause a decrease in daily urinary output, which usually occurs in more advanced forms of the disease. Other changes include:
- Proteinuria: In kidney failure, protein is passed into the urine. Due to the presence of protein, the urine foams.
- Hematuria: Dark orange urine is the result of red blood cells in the urine.
Step 2. Watch for sudden feelings of fatigue
One of the first signs of chronic kidney failure is fatigue. This is due to anemia when there are not enough red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen. Due to the decrease in oxygen, you will feel tired and cold. Anemia is attributed to the fact that the kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which causes your bone marrow to produce red blood cells. But due to the fact that the kidneys are damaged, they produce less of this hormone, therefore, less red blood cells are produced as well.
Step 3. Pay attention to the swelling of body parts
Edema is the accumulation of fluid in the body, which can occur in both acute and chronic renal failure. When the kidneys stop working properly, fluid begins to accumulate in the cells, which leads to edema. Most often, swelling occurs in the hands, feet, legs, and face.
Step 4. See your doctor if you experience dizziness or slow thinking
Dizziness, poor concentration, or lethargy can be caused by anemia. This is due to the fact that not enough blood cells enter your brain.
Step 5. Look for pain in the upper back, legs, or side
Polycystic kidney disease results in fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. Sometimes cysts can form in the liver. They cause a lot of pain. The fluid in the cysts contains toxins that can damage the nerve endings in the lower extremities and lead to neuropathy, dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves. In turn, neuropathy causes pain in the lower back and legs.
Step 6. Watch for shortness of breath, bad breath, and / or a metallic taste in your mouth
When your kidneys begin to fail, waste products, most of which are acidic, begin to build up in your body. The lungs will begin to compensate for this increased acidity by removing carbon dioxide through rapid breathing. This will make you feel like you can't catch your breath.
Fluid can also build up in your lungs, making it difficult to breathe normally. This is because the surrounding fluid prevents the lungs from expanding normally during inhalation
Step 7. Pay attention if you suddenly start itching or dry skin
Chronic renal failure causes pruritis (the medical term for pruritus). This itching is caused by a buildup of phosphorus in the blood. All foods contain some amount of phosphorus, but some foods, such as dairy, contain more phosphorus than others. Healthy kidneys are able to filter and remove phosphorus from the body. However, in chronic renal failure, phosphorus is retained in the body and phosphorus crystals begin to form on the surface of the skin, which cause itching.
Step 8. Be aware that sometimes there may be no noticeable symptoms until the last stage of the disease
This is especially true with chronic renal failure. In this case, symptoms will appear only when the kidneys can no longer remove metabolic products from the body or maintain water balance.
Part 2 of 2: Risk Factors for Kidney Failure
Step 1. Beware of conditions that can cause acute kidney failure
Several diseases often precede acute and chronic renal failure. If you know you have one of the following conditions, pay special attention to any symptom of kidney failure you may have and seek medical advice as soon as possible:
- Myocardial infarction or heart attack.
- Blockage of the urinary tract.
- Rhabdomyolysis, or kidney damage due to the destruction of muscle tissue.
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome (Gasser's syndrome) or blockage of small blood vessels inside the kidney.
Step 2. Beware of common causes of chronic kidney failure
If you notice symptoms that are associated with kidney failure and you have any of the following conditions, you should consult your doctor for advice. Conditions that can cause chronic kidney failure include:
- Uncontrolled diabetes.
- Long-term hypertension or high blood pressure.
- Chronic glomerulonephritis, or inflammation of tiny filters in the kidney.
- Certain genetic diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, hereditary hemorrhagic nephritis, or systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Stones in the kidneys.
- Reflux nephropathy, or urine flow back into the kidneys.
Step 3. Learn how kidney failure is diagnosed
To make a diagnosis of kidney failure (both chronic and acute), a blood test, fluoroscopy, measurement of the volume of urine flow, urinalysis, or a kidney biopsy are necessary.
- See your doctor right away if you have or have any of the above symptoms.
- To make an accurate diagnosis, you need to consult a doctor.