Renal Failure

We have two kidneys in our bodies; they are our natural detoxification machines. They help us by purifying our blood and removing unwanted by-products from the blood. The removed waste material is eliminated from the body via urine. However, the kidneys, just like any other organ, may fail and lead to the failure of the whole body. This medical condition is called Kidney Failure or Renal Failure. A typical condition of Kidney Failure is characterised by the diminished functionality of the kidneys by, at least, 15%. There are several reasons for kidney failure; we shall discuss the causes of kidney failure in detail in the following paragraph.


In most cases, the biggest cause of the failure of the kidneys is infections, especially long-term ones. People having medical conditions like diabetes mellitus and hypertension are the ones most likely to develop renal failure. Other problems like accidents, post-surgery complications, drug overdose, chemical overload in the body, namely from antibiotics, chemotherapy etc. are also some known causes of Renal Failure. 

Types of Renal Failure

There are two categories of Kidney Failure, viz., Acute Renal Failure and Chronic Renal Failure. 

Acute Renal Failure Symptoms: In this condition, the kidney suddenly stops the process of blood filtration. There are symptoms of this form of kidney failure; internal bleeding, confusion, high blood pressure, swelling in limbs and face and seizures are some common ones. 

Subtypes in Acute Renal Failure: (1) Prerenal Acute Kidney Failure, (2) Intrinsic Acute Renal Injury, and (3) Post-Renal Intrinsic Injury.

Prerenal Acute Kidney Failure: In this type of kidney failure, the flow of blood is reduced or blocked. Thereby, there is no damage or injury inside the kidney. It may be caused by some common reasons like gastroenteritis, vasodilation due to drug reaction, active hypovolemia sepsis, anaphylaxis or allergic reaction, lowered cardiac output, Addisonian crisis, cerebral salt wasting, protein-losing enteropathy, change in the dynamics of the blood flow due to dehydration (altered haemodynamics), restricted blood flow due to trauma, surgery &c.

Intrinsic Acute Renal Injury: it is caused due to damage to the nephrons (structural and functional unit in the kidney). The problem is complex and may not be the causative but the secondary factor for the failure of kidneys. The Intrinsic Acute Renal Injury is also known to cause tubular necrosis. 

Post-Renal Intrinsic Renal Injury: This type of failure of the kidneys is characterised by the restriction of urine from the kidney. This restriction of urine applies pressure on the kidney and causes internal injury or damage to the nephrons or posterior urethral valves. It may also lead to urethral stricture or narrowing, haemorrhagic cystitis, i.e., obstruction of the bladder due to blood clots, and kidney stones formation. 

Chronic Renal Failure: It is a slow and progressive failure of the kidneys. The symptoms of this form of a kidney disorder are not apparent until the kidney functions fall below a mark of 20%. There are typical signs of this type of kidney failure, namely nausea, hypertension, seizures, vomiting, short breaths, pain in the chest, fatigue, headache and itching. 

Symptoms of Kidney Failure

The slow progression of Chronic Renal Failure may make its diagnosis difficult. In most cases, the problem is not diagnosed until both the kidneys reach an irreversible level of failure. The most frequently noticed symptoms are diarrhoea, insomnia, rashes, fever, vomiting, cramps in the muscles, loss of appetite, frequent urination, obstructed breathing, nausea, back and abdominal pains, swelling in the lower body namely in the feet and ankles. 

Prevention and Treatment

Due to the severe nature of the disease, prevention is very important. In some cases the likelihood of the onset of the disorder can be linked with the decreased circulation of blood following coronary bypass surgery, abdominal surgery, instances of blood loss through urine and stools due to abdominal trauma, and uric acid nephropathy. Drinking copious amounts of water can help someone to excrete toxins and chemicals from the body. Discontinuation of medicines that may cause obstructions in the kidneys can help in the prevention too.

For the treatment of the failure of the kidneys, diuretics are the class of medicines that help in increasing the urine flow for toxin extraction. Haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are the most effective treatments; they help in extracting the toxins and excess water from the body of the affected person; however, it is a short-term treatment. In the long run; however, kidney transplant of at least one kidney can help the patient get back to normal.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1: Can Chronic Renal Failure be Cured?

Answer: The condition of Chronic Renal Failure is regarded as incurable. However, there can be a number of solutions offered. If the problem with the kidney is caused by an underlying medical condition requiring a regular intake of medicine that in turn impairs the function of the kidneys, then discontinuing the medication may help. At the same time, dialysis can help remove the piles of toxins and chemicals. If the condition is caused by an obstruction in the kidney like kidney stones, then surgical removal of the stones can help restore the functionality of the kidney. Kidney transplant is the ultimate resolution.

Question 2: Can There be more than one Problem Affecting the Kidneys?

Answer: There are several problems that can either affect the functioning of kidneys or worsen it. E.g., an abdominal trauma can lead to the structure of the inlets, i.e., renal vein or renal artery, or the outlet, i.e., ureter; overuse of some medicines like paracetamol can worsen the condition; another chronic illness causing prolonged use of medicines can lead to Renal Failure. Problems like lack of hydration can be one of the reasons for the failure of kidneys.