Kidney failure, or end-stage kidney disease, represents a state where a person’s kidneys no longer function effectively. It comes in two primary forms: acute and chronic.

Types and Causes of Kidney Failure

  • Acute Kidney Failure – a rapid decline in kidney function due to various factors, such as blood infection (septicemia), urinary tract diseases, ingestion of harmful substances, medication side effects, or medication overdose. Acute kidney failure can also occur as a result of another underlying condition. In such cases, prompt treatment of the condition greatly increases the likelihood of restoring normal kidney function.
  • Chronic Kidney Failure – characterized by the progressive decline in kidney function. The primary factors contributing to this type of kidney failure include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, and other medical conditions. It may take up to one year for symptoms such as kidney inflammation or polycystic kidney disease to manifest. Typically, patients are diagnosed with this condition when their kidney function has already been significantly impaired, resulting in kidney failure. Unfortunately, treatments are incapable of fully restoring the kidneys to their previous state.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can manifest through various symptoms, like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue and reduced appetite
  • Insomnia and dry, itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps, reduced urine output, and more

Diagnosing Kidney Failure

  • Urine Assessments: Check for proteins and red blood cells.
  • Blood Tests: Measure creatinine levels to understand kidney efficiency and GFR (glomerular filtration rate).
  • Other Evaluations: This could involve ultrasound assessments or kidney sample analysis.

Progression of Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney disease progresses in stages:

  • Stage 1: Normal GFR (90 or above) with early kidney deterioration signs.
  • Stage 2: GFR between 60-89. The slightly decreased GFR rating indicates that the patient is at a stage where the kidneys have already experienced deterioration.
  • Stage 3: GFR between 30-59.
  • Stage 4: GFR between 15-29.
  • Stage 5: GFR less than 15, signifying kidney failure.

Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure

Treating kidney failure can be done through the following methods:

  • Hemodialysis – A treatment that eliminates waste and fluids from the blood by extracting the patient's blood, filtering out the waste, and then regulating the blood's mineral levels and acidity using an artificial kidney, resulting in improved quality blood being returned to the patient's bloodstream. This process typically lasts for 3-4 hours per session and should be performed at least 2-3 times per week. Patients will need to undergo blood vessel surgery to establish access to the bloodstream before undergoing the dialysis treatment.
  • Peritoneal Dialysis – A method in which the kidney is purified and filtered using a unique fluid that is introduced into the body through a catheter inserted into the patient's abdomen. This approach should be done on a daily basis, so patients often acquire the skills to perform the procedure themselves at home. Nevertheless, it is essential to consider that conducting peritoneal dialysis at home carries certain risks related to cleanliness and infection. Patients must ensure they learn the proper and safe techniques for performing the procedure at home.
  • Kidney Transplantation – The surgical procedure involves extracting a healthy kidney from a donor and transplanting it into a patient who is experiencing kidney failure. The donor kidney can be sourced from an individual with irreversible brain damage or a healthy individual whose kidney is compatible with the recipient's body. This technique is specifically offered to individuals in advanced stages of kidney failure, as it is often their only viable option. Refusing a kidney transplant is likely to lead to fatal consequences for these patients.