Why Do Kidneys Fail


Kidney failure is called as renal failure or renal deficiency. It is a medical condition in which kidneys fail to filter adequate metabolic wastes from the blood. The two main types are acute kidney failure and chronic kidney diseases. Acute kidney failure is reversible and can be treated with adequate treatment, while chronic kidney diseases are often non reversible.

Kidney failure is commonly determined by glomerular filtration rate decrease. This is the rate at  which kidneys filter the blood in the glomeruli. The condition can be detected by the decrease in urine production or detection of waste products like urea or creatinine in the blood. Depending on the cause, blood loss in the urine (hematuria) and protein loss (proteinuria) may be noted.    

Kidney failure may lead to problems like swelling due to fluids in the body, rise in potassium levels, decrease in calcium levels, increase in phosphate levels, increase in acid levels and also later stages of anemia. Bone health may also get affected. Long term kidney problems often increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Types of Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can be classified into two types: acute kidney failure and chronic kidney diseases

  • Acute kidney injury: This kidney failure type was previously called as renal failure. In this type, there is rapid progressive loss of renal function which is generally characterized by oliguria; decline in urine production, which is usually is measured as less than 400 mL per day in adults, less than 0.5 mL/h/kg in children and less than 1 mL/h/kg in infants. This kidney failure can also be characterized by electrolyte and fluid imbalance. This kidney problem can be happen due to variety of causes which are commonly classified as intrinsic, prerenal and postrenal. Dialysis may be essential to arch the time gap necessary to treat these fundamental causes.
  • Chronic Kidney diseases: These kidney diseases are also called as chronic renal diseases. In such conditions, there is continuous loss in kidney functions over a period of months or years. If these diseases get worse, they can build waste at high level in blood and make you sick. You may also develop complications like anemia, poor nutritional health, weak bones, nerve damage and risk of high blood pressure. Contrastingly, high blood pressure, diabetes and other disorders can also cause Chronic kidney diseases. Early detection and proper treatment can often cure these diseases.  

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms may differ from person to person. During early stages, some may also not notice symptoms or feel sick. As the disease progresses, symptoms can become noticeable.

Following are some of the common symptoms of kidney failure:

  • Sudden weight-loss
  • Constant vomiting and diarrhea which may cause dehydration
  • Frequent or greater amount of urine than usual which is pale in color
  • Less frequency of urination with less amount of urine than usual which is dark in color
  • Excessive urination at night
  • Blood in urine
  • Pressure or difficulty during urination
  • Extraordinary amount of urination, usually in large quantities
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Darkening of skin
  • Presence of excess protein in blood
  • Bad taste in mouth and loss in appetite

Kidney Failure - Treatments

Many treatment options are available to treat kidney failure which include various types of dialysis and kidney transplant. Your doctor will help you to figure out best treatment according to your condition. Find out more information about the costs and hospitals.

Following are the treatment options available for Kidney failure:

Hemodialysis: This treatment is also called as “hemo” in short. It uses a machine to clean your blood. This can be done at your home or at any dialysis center.

Peritoneal dialysis: This treatment uses the lining of your belly area (abdomen) called as peritoneum and a cleaning solution called as dialysate for cleaning your blood. Dialysate will absorb fluid and waste from your blood, using peritoneum as a filter. You can perform peritoneal dialysis at your home too; just the place should be clean and dry.

Kidney transplant: It is a surgery during which you are given a healthy kidney from some other person's body. This kidney can be from a live donor (usually from someone you know) or from a recently dead person. This new kidney will perform the normal functions as your natural two kidneys did earlier.

Some people may choose not to perform dialysis or choose kidney transplant. If you choose this path, care should be taken by consuming medicines and protecting remaining kidney functions as long as possible. It is also advised to change diet and lifestyle to maintain proper functioning of kidneys. It should be noted that kidney failure can be sudden or gradual, so if you notice any of the symptoms as mentioned above, always consult your doctor immediately.