Kidney Failure: Causes Symptoms & Treatment

icon-blog By -Dr. Aaksha Shukla
icon-blog By -March 18, 2024
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Kidney Failure: Causes Symptoms & Treatment

To understand what causes kidney failure, it’s important to understand how healthy kidneys function and what purpose they serve. The kidneys are amazing organs that work hard to filter our body’s blood. With thousands of tiny blood vessels, our kidneys act as a full-body filtration system. They separate waste products from essential substances like protein and red blood cells in the body. Kidney failure occurs when this system breaks down and useful bodily substances, like protein, are unintentionally expelled. Protein is necessary for the body’s tissues and organs, and we need it to survive. When the filtering system is in the early stages of protein loss, it is called microalbuminuria. A more extensive breakdown is known as macroalbuminuria.

What Causes Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure is typically caused by other health conditions that have gradually harmed your kidneys over time, such as:

  • Diabetes symptoms, the most common cause
  • High blood pressure is the second-leading cause
  • Lupus and IgA nephropathy are autoimmune disorders.
  • Genetic disorders (diseases passed down from one or both parents), such as polycystic kidney disease
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Problems in your urinary tract (organs that produce and transport urine from your body), such as kidney stones
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Drinking excessively

These medical conditions do not always lead to CKD or renal failure. 
A kidney problem known as acute kidney injury (AKI) could eventually lead to kidney failure. This type of kidney failure occurs quickly, typically within two days, and is most common in individuals who are already in the hospital for other medical issues. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is also referred to as acute renal failure.

How Are the Heart, Kidneys, and Diabetes Connected?

Your kidneys are part of your cardiovascular system. The circulatory system includes the renal arteries. Large volumes of blood are carried by them from the kidneys to the aorta, the major artery of the heart. Every minute, around half a cup of blood flows through the renal arteries and into your kidneys., and type 2 diabetes can cause significant stress on both your heart and kidneys. To stay healthy, you and your doctor should monitor your risk for heart and renal problems, as well as address any issues that arise.

What Is UACR Screening?

Our bodies require protein to create muscle, repair tissue, and fight infections. However, it should be in the circulation rather than the urine, where protein is lost due to kidney impairment. People with high protein (albumin) levels in their urine are more likely to develop renal disease. In certain circumstances, dialysis may be necessary to survive. The urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) is a simple test to determine whether albumin is present in the urine.
If you have type 2 diabetes, a UACR test should be included in your annual screenings because it can detect kidney impairment early on.

Diagnostic Tests For Kidney Failure 

To identify if you have renal failure, doctors may do the following tests:

  • The eGFR blood test.
  • Urinary test
  • Kidney biopsy: It is a process in which doctors take a small amount of tissue from your kidneys and examine it under a microscope.

What Are The Symptoms Of CKD?

If you've had diabetes for a long time, you could be suffering from kidney damage without realizing it. High blood glucose (blood sugar), high blood pressure, and diabetic complications all lead to kidney disease.

Unfortunately, looking for symptoms is rarely enough to detect early-stage renal disease. This is because our kidneys will overwork themselves to compensate for the initial damage, and you may not notice symptoms until almost all function is lost. Any symptoms you may experience would not indicate renal disease. This is why it is critical to see your doctor regularly and have your health assessed once a year. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, a family history of renal disease, and obesity are the leading causes of kidney failure. Some symptoms of kidney failure can include: 

  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Muscle cramping
  • Feeling ill in the stomach or vomiting
  • Not feeling more hungry than usual
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles
  • Urinating more or less than usual
  • Foamy, frothy, or bubbly urine
  • Trouble catching your breath?
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

Prevention Of CKD

Here are seven Golden Rules of Prevention to reduce your risk of developing kidney disease.

1. Get Frequent Checkups

You take your car in for a tune-up to ensure it operates well, so why not take care of your body? Your doctor can diagnose kidney illness using two basic tests: a urine test and a blood test. A urine test known as the albumin-creatinine ratio (ACR) determines whether or not there is albumin in your urine. A blood test called the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) measures how well your kidneys work to eliminate waste from your body. If you have a long-term condition that may lead to CKD, you must carefully treat it. Follow your doctor's recommendations, take all medications recommended, and attend all appointments caused by your condition.

2. Control Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can damage your kidneys and raise your risk of developing renal disease. If your blood pressure stays high, your doctor may recommend medication. Simple lifestyle changes, such as reducing salt and alcohol consumption, lowering weight, and exercising, can help keep your blood pressure under control.

3. Manage Blood Sugar

Several factors can influence blood sugar levels, including some that are beyond a person's control, such as hormones, disease, or stress. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause blood vessels inside the kidney to narrow and clog, causing damage to the blood vessels and kidneys. If you have diabetes, the best way to protect your kidneys is to manage your blood sugar levels as well as possible. Your treatment approach may include dietary adjustments, exercise, and blood sugar-lowering medication.

4. Maintain A Healthy Diet

A healthy, balanced diet on your health helps reduce your risk of kidney disease by maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A balanced diet should contain Fruits and vegetables daily (at least 5 servings). Include starchy foods like potatoes, whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta in your meals. Some dairy or dairy alternatives. Protein-rich foods include beans or pulses, fish, eggs, and meat. Low amounts of saturated fat, salt, and sugar. You may also be advised on dietary modifications that can specifically benefit kidney illness, such as lowering the amount of potassium or phosphate in your diet. A healthy eating plan, such as the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, can help lower blood pressure and blood lipids. These diets contain fresh fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. They also contain less sodium, sugar, fat, and red meat.

5. Exercise

You have heard it before, and we will repeat it: you must exercise. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase strength and endurance, and reduce your risk of developing diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease. Walking, domestic chores, sports, and aerobic exercise (jogging, swimming, biking, climbing stairs, or hiking) are all forms of exercise that can help you stay healthy.

6. Quit Smoking

Smoking raises the risk of cardiovascular illness, such as heart attacks and strokes, which are linked to an increased risk of CKD. Quitting smoking will improve your overall health and lower your risk of developing these serious conditions. By now, you should be aware of the numerous risks linked to smoking and drinking. Smoking causes problems in all organs of the body, including the kidneys.

7. Do Not Overuse Pain Medicines

Using too much pain medicine called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen) may cause kidney disease. Long-term use of NSAIDs, especially at high doses, reduces the blood flow to the kidney, which causes harm to kidney tissue. Ask your doctor about other medicines to manage pain, such as acetaminophen.
 Note: A specific remark about renal disease in the COVID-19 group: people with kidney disease, transplant recipients, and those with other severe chronic medical conditions are more likely to suffer serious complications with COVID-19. People on dialysis may have compromised immune systems, making it more difficult to fight illness. However, kidney patients must continue with their regularly scheduled dialysis treatments. People who have had a kidney transplant must continue to take immunosuppressive medications. It is also critical to wash their hands, maintain proper hygiene, and follow the advice of their healthcare staff. 

Treatment Of CKD

To treat kidney failure, you need to see a nephrologist. Your nephrologist will discuss with you your treatment options, which include:

  • Dialysis is a procedure in which a machine cleans your blood.
  • A kidney transplant:

A deceased donor kidney transplant is an operation that provides you with a healthy kidney from someone who has just died.

A living donor kidney transplant is a surgery in which you get a healthy kidney from someone who is still alive. 


Maintaining healthy kidneys is crucial for maintaining good health. To prevent kidney failure, consume fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit sugary and processed foods. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, manage your weight by exercising, quit smoking, and schedule regular checkups with your doctor. These simple steps can significantly reduce the risk of kidney problems and ensure kidney health for years to come.

Frequently Ask Question(FAQs)

What is the primary prevention for kidney failure?

Primary prevention of kidney disease should focus on the modification of risk factors and addressing structural abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tracts, as well as exposure to environmental risk factors and nephrotoxins.

Who is at risk of kidney disease?

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the more common causes of CKD in most adults. Other risk factors include heart disease, obesity, a family history of CKD, inherited kidney disorders, past damage to the kidneys, and older age. Managing blood sugar and blood pressure can help keep kidneys healthy.

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