The early signs and symptoms of kidney failure are so subtle that they are often left undiagnosed. Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) progresses by time without even make the patient realise that their health is getting worse. Kidneys are the pair of organs located towards the lower back and help in filtering the blood by removing toxins from the body.
Five types of kidney failure
Generally, there are five types of kidney failure:
1) Acute Prerenal Kidney Failure: It is caused due to insufficient blood flow to the kidneys.
2) Acute Intrinsic Kidney Failure: It is caused by direct trauma to the kidneys such as physical impact or accident. Toxin overload and ischemia- lack of oxygen to the kidneys are also responsible for acute intrinsic Kidney failure.
3) Chronic Prerenal Kidney Failure: It occurs due to the insufficient flowing of blood to the kidneys for an extended period. As a result, the kidneys become shrinked and lose the ability to function.
4) Chronic Intrinsic Kidney failure: It happens when there is a long-term damage to the kidneys due to intrinsic kidney diseases.
5) Chronic Post-Renal Kidney Failure: It is caused due to blockage of the urinary tract for a long time, prevents urination and causes pressure that eventually leads to damage to the kidneys.
What causes failure of kidneys?
The symptoms of Kidney failure occur when your kidneys lose the ability to filter wastes from the blood sufficiently. The factors which can interfere with kidney health and function are:
- Toxic exposure to environmental pollutants,
- Certain occurrence of acute and chronic diseases,
- Severe dehydration.
Some of the important causes that lead to failure of kidney are:
- Urine elimination problems occur when our body unable to eliminate the urine. As a result, it leads to accumulation of excess toxins overloading the kidneys.
- Blood clot in and around the kidneys.
- Infection in the kidneys.
- Excessive intake of alcohol and drugs.
- Glomerulonephritis, a disease which causes inflammation of blood vessels of the kidneys.
- Chemotherapy drugs, the medications prescribed to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases can lead to the occurrence of symptoms of kidney failure as well.
What are the Symptoms of Kidney failure?
Early signs of CKD are very subtle. But if ignored, can result in serious complications. Knowing the symptoms of CKD can help us to get early treatment and diagnosis. The good news is that people suffering from CKD stage-3 have approximately 80% chances of recovering without any kidney failure.
Possible symptoms that one needs to know are:
1) Changes in urination pattern:
• You may urinate more than usual, with pale urine.
• Urine may be foamy or bubbly
• You may urinate less than usual, with dark-coloured urine
• Your urine may contain blood
• You may experience difficulty urinating
2) Swelling: Weak kidneys are not able to remove extra fluid, which builds up in the body causing swelling of ankles, feet or hands.
3) Fatigue or constant tiredness: Kidneys produce an important hormone called erythropoietin or EPO, which helps in making oxygen-carrying Red Blood Cells (RBC). When kidneys fail, they make less EPO. With fewer RBCs in the body to carry oxygen, muscle and brain tire easily. This also leads to anaemia one of the common symptoms of kidney failure.
4) Dry and itchy skin:
• Kidney removes the waste from the blood. When they stop working properly, the build-up of waste increases in the body. This leads to dry and itchy skin.
• Ace breakout, rashes and severe itching are experienced when there is a build-up of excess wastes and toxins in the blood stream, the effect of excess toxicity are shown on the skin surface.
5) Puffed eyes: When kidneys are damaged, protein gets leaked with urine. This leakage of protein causes puffiness around eyes.
6) Fall in appetite and nausea: When the kidney is unhealthy, waste starts piling up in the body due to inability of the purification process to function properly. This might lead to nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite is a possible symptom, too. Weight fluctuation is also a very common symptom of Kidney Failure.
7) Feeling cold and Breathlessness: Reduction in EPO production leads to anaemia and decrease in red blood cells which leave the patient always feeling cold. CKD can also cause fluid build-up in the lungs leading to shortness of breath.
Importance of recognising symptoms of Kidney failure
Our body becomes overloaded with toxins if the kidneys are unable to perform their regular job which can lead to kidney or renal failure and even be life- threatening if left untreated. This will lead to:
- Low red blood cell count: RBCs are responsible for bringing oxygen to tissues and organs. Without these, the kidneys can’t function efficiently, leading to fatigue and weakness
- Improper potassium excretion: Rising potassium level in the body can lead to fatal heart rhythm problems. This increases the risk of heart disease due to body’s inability to excrete potassium.
- Metabolic Acidosis: If our body is unable to make enough bicarbonate, it increases the acid levels in the body which can alter enzyme and oxygen metabolism, leading to kidney failure.
- Urea: Urea is a waste chemical produced during digestion of protein and is the primary solid component of urine. Our kidneys perform the function of filtering the urea from the blood. When the urea level rises, it affects the functioning of muscle, heart and brain, leading to the occurrence of following symptoms of kidney failure:
– Lower appetite
– Low in energy and high levels of fatigue
– Decrease in cognitive functioning and inability to think clearly.
When kidney failure reaches at a critical stage, organs are unable to function properly, resulting in the collapse of the metabolic system. This leads to rise in the level of blood pressure because of excess fluids circulating in the body, congestive heart failure and extreme breathlessness. Therefore, medical intervention is critical at this point for the survival of the patient.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Several tests can be used to diagnose the symptoms of kidney failure. Some of them are:
- Urine volume measurements,
- Blood samples,
- Imaging and
- Kidney tissue sample.
Treatment options primarily include:
Dialysis which filters and purifies the blood using machines, in turn performing the exact function of kidneys. It is important to note that, dialysis doesn’t cure the failure of the kidneys but help to keep us alive if we opt for regularly scheduled treatments.
Kidney Transplantation replaces the damaged kidney with the new one that works perfectly, and further dialysis is not required. However, the immunosuppressive drugs can also cause some serious harmful side effects
To conclude, precaution is better than cure. Thus, taking extra precautions and early consultation with the doctor is significant if there is occurrence of any symptoms of Kidney failure.