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What is Renal Failure? Print E-mail
Written by Robert Smith   
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Acute renal failure occurs when the filtering function of the kidneys changes suddenly. The kidneys are not able to maintain healthy body function.

What is going on in the body?

The kidneys filter the blood in the body and produce urine. They clear the body of many drugs and toxins. They also produce hormones and control blood pressure. The blood flow to each kidney is supplied by a large artery. Blood flow to the kidneys is crucial both for kidney health and to allow the kidneys to perform their functions of cleaning and maintaining the blood. Anything that leads to a sudden drop in blood flow to the kidneys can cause acute renal failure. When this happens, the regular functions of the kidneys can be altered or destroyed.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?
The following can lead to acute renal failure:
_ a blockage of urine flow out of the kidneys and into the bladder
_ exposure to certain drugs
_ exposure to toxic substances
_ significant loss of blood or sudden drop in blood flow to the kidneys

Kidneys that have preexisting disease or damage are at higher risk for acute renal failure.

What are the treatments for the disease?
Diuretic medicines, known as water pills, are sometimes used to help the kidneys get rid of fluid in the body. In other situations, fluids are given to promote increased blood flow to the kidneys.

If blood loss or shock has occurred, blood transfusions ay be given. Salt imbalances are monitored closely. Medicines can be given to lower elevated electrolytes levels. Dialysis may be used to replace kidney function until the acute renal failure resolves. Dialysis is a procedure where the blood flow from a person is redirected through a special machine. The machine filters the blood and then returns it to the person.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

In most cases, there are few side effects to treatment of acute renal failure. The complexity of the disease itself can lead to further difficulties though. When dialysis is needed, a large intravenous tube, called a catheter, is placed into a vein in the upper arm or chest. The catheter is used for withdrawing fluids from the body or adding fluids. This can pose the risk of bleeding or infection.

What happens after treatment for the disease?
After normal kidney function has returned, the person will be monitored for overall kidney and electrolyte function.

How is the disease monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.


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