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In this article and the next one, the function of the kidneys in the body and the causes of acute kidney failure will be explained and then the kidney transplant procedure and methods will be outlined.
Introducing the kidney and its duties
Each human has two kidneys each one the size of a fist located at the lowest level of the chest on either side of the spine. The main function of kidneys is to remove waste and excess fluid from the body through the urine. This process is necessary for body chemicals to keep a stable balance. The kidneys are responsible for the vital regulation of potassium, acid and salt in the body. Hormones and vitamins that affect the function of other organs are also produced by the kidneys. For instance, one of the hormones that stimulate red blood cell production is produced by the kidneys. In addition, it secretes all other hormones, one of which regulates blood pressure and the other controls calcium metabolism.
Kidney failure also called end-stage kidney disease occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to function and its ability reduces to less than 15 % of normal. In order to effectively treat kidney failure, it is important to know whether the kidney disease is happened suddenly (acute kidney failure) or it’s a result of long-term condition (chronic kidney disease).
Many situations, diseases and medications can lead to kidney failure which is divided into two types acute and chronic.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) or Acute Renal failure (ARF):
Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys are suddenly unable to separate and filter waste from the blood. When the kidneys are unable to purify the blood, dangerous amounts of waste material accumulate in the blood and disrupt the chemical balance of the blood.
Acute kidney failure occurs rapidly within hours or days. Acute renal failure is more common in hospitalized patients, especially in those who have a serious illness and need intensive care.
Acute kidney failure can be fatal and requires immediate and severe treatment. But it is also treatable, and the kidneys can work naturally again.
Causes of Acute kidney injury
A variety of causes can lead to acute kidney failure, including three categories of:
• Pre-renal failure: You have conditions that reduce kidney blood flow
• Renal causes : Kidneys direct damage such as glomerulonephritis and acute tubular necrosis
• Post-renal causes : The urine drainage of your kidneys (urine) is blocked and the waste material cannot get out of your body through urine like renal stones or benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Symptoms of AKI
Decreased excretion, though in some cases excretion may remain normal Fluid retention that causes swelling of the lower extremities,
knees and feet
Shortness of breath
Chest pain or pressure
Seizures or coma in severe cases
Sometimes acute renal failure does not lead to any signs or symptoms and is diagnosed by tests performed for another reason.
If your symptoms and signs suggest that you have acute kidney failure, your doctor may recommend specific tests and processes to confirm your diagnosis, which may include:
• Urine output measurement : Measuring how much you urinate in 24 hours may help your doctor determine the cause of your kidney failure.
• Urinalysis: Analysis of your urine sample (urine test) can show abnormalities that indicate you have kidney failure.
• Blood test: Your blood sample may indicate rapidly increasing levels of urea and creatinine - two substances used to measure kidney function.
• Imaging : Imaging such as ultrasound and CT scans may help your doctor see your kidneys.
• Kidney biopsy: In some cases, your doctor may suggest a kidney biopsy to remove a small sample of kidney tissue for laboratory tests. The doctor inserts a needle through your skin to remove a sample of the kidney.
Treatment of acute renal failure usually requires hospitalization. Most of the patients who suffer from acute kidney failure are already hospitalized. The length of hospital stay depends on your acute kidney failure and the speed of recovery.
Treatment of acute kidney failure involves identifying a disease or injury to your kidneys. Your treatment options depend on what causes your kidney failure.
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