Kidney failure and its symptoms

Structure of kidneys

Alt text= Kidney failure

Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs on either side of our spine. Each about the size of our fist. They are a very important part of the human body. Critical illness or death may occur in the case of Kidney failure.

The structure of the kidneys are very strange and its functions are very complex. Generally, their two major functions are:

  1. Remove harmful wastes and toxins from the body.
  2. Regulates water, fluids, minerals as electrolytes, sodium, potassium from the body.

Kidney and urinary system

  • The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs present in all vertebrates.
  • In adults, kidney length is about 10 cm long, 6 cm wide, and 4 cm thick. Each kidney weighs about 150 – 170 grams.
  • We have two kidneys in our bodies of both men as well as women. They are safely located inside the abdomen, in the back, on both sides of the spine in between ribs.
  • The ureter which carries urine from the kidney to the bladder is known as the ureter, it is usually 25 cm in length and is made up of a special type of flexible muscle.
  • An adult person’s bladder may collect 400 – 500 ml of urine. A person has a strong urge to pass urine when the urine becomes full near the capacity of the bladder.
  • Particularly, urination comes out of the body through the urethra. In women, the urethra is shorter than in men, while in men the passage is longer. If the kidney does not purify the blood then toxins circulate in the body and can become fatal.

Functions of the Urinary Tract

  1. The most important function of the kidney is to purify the blood by removing waste products. The food which we eat contains Protein.
  2. This protein is necessary for keeping our body healthy and for the development of the body.
  3. Kidneys excrete excess stored water through urine and keep the amount of water that is necessary for the body
  4. In case if the kidneys lose the ability to exclude excess water from the body. It causes the body to swell due to the accumulation of excess water.
  5. They work by keeping the amount of sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, and bicarbonate, etc. in the normal range. The above substances are responsible for the amount of acid and alkali in the body.
  6. Increasing or decreasing the amount of sodium can have serious effects on the brain and heart and muscle activity by increasing or decreasing the amount of potassium.

Hormones produced by kidney

  1. High blood pressure, hormones such as angiotensin, aldosterone, prostaglandin, etc produced in the kidney. With the help of these hormones, our body maintains a balance of water and it even maintains normal blood pressure in our body.
  2. In the case of kidney failure, water balance leads to high blood pressure.
  3. The Bone marrow produces red blood cells and when the kidney fails red blood cells are not produced which causes anemia.
  4. Also, Vitamin D is converted by kidneys, which is very important for calcium absorption, for the growth of bones and teeth they are very essential.
  5. Accordingly, the amount of urine is based on the amount of water consumed and according to the temperature of the atmosphere.

What is the cause of kidney failure?

Kidney failure occurs when there is complete damage in the organ and there can be several causes or conditions for the failure of the kidney, which include:

  1. Less blood flow in the kidney:If there is a sudden loss of blood in the kidney or blood stops flowing in the kidney then it promotes kidney failure. There can be Some more conditions that accompany kidney failure, which include: heart attack, heart disease, dehydration, burning sensation, allergic reactions, severe infection, liver failure or scarring of the liver.
  2. Urine elimination problem:Our body eliminates toxic and acidic substances from the body in the form of urine. But when this urine starts accumulating in the body and is not able to go out it creates a pressure on the kidneys and overloads it. This can cause kidney failure and even some kind of cancer.
  3. Some of the diseases also create a hindrance in urine passage, which includes:Prostate, colon, cervical, bladder.
  4. There can be other conditions as well which can create a hindrance in urination:Kidney stone, enlarged prostate, blood clot in the urinary tract, or any kind of damage in the urinary tract.
  5. Infection in your kidney
  6. Drugs or alcohol
  7. Overload of toxins in the kidney
  8. Antibiotics
  9. Unmanaged Diabetes
  10. Chemotherapy drugs

Symptoms of kidney disease

Generally, kidney failure may be not provided with any symptoms (asymptomatic). When the kidney function decreases, it fails to control water and electrolyte balances. Also, clear waste products from the body, and unable to promote red blood cell production.

If unrecognized or untreated, the following symptoms of kidney failure may develop into life-threatening circumstances.

  1. Laziness
  2. Weakness
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Generalized swelling (edema)
  5. Generalized weakness due to anemia 
  6. Loss of appetite
  7. Lethargy
  8. Fatigue
  9. Congestive heart failure
  10. Metabolic acidosis
  11. High blood potassium (hyperkalemia)
  12. Fatal heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation 
  13. Rising urea levels in the blood (uremia) may lead to brain encephalopathy, pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining), or low calcium blood levels (hypocalcemia)

How long can you live with kidney failure?

There is no exact answer to this question as it varies from person to person. People can survive on dialysis depending upon the amount of kidney failure. It also depends upon the overall health conditions.

How long can you live with end-stage kidney failure?

If a person suffers from kidney failure and does not go for dialysis then he/she may live for about a year. But if a patient stops dialysis then he/she may die within one week or two.

Treatment for Kidney failure

If you are suffering from the last stage of kidney disease, then you have to choose for Dialysis or a Kidney Transplant. Accordingly, there are several types of Dialysis and for more information, you have to consult your doctor for the best treatment.

Listed below are some treatments for Kidney failure.

  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal Dialysis
  • Kidney Transplant

Know about Hemodialysis:

Generally, this is a type of treatment procedure in the case of Kidney Failure. It is also known as “Hemo Dialysis”. In this process, a machine is used to purify the blood. Thus this procedure is done at the Dialysis centre or even at your home.

Know about Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis is done when your kidneys are unable to function properly on their own. In this process, a purifying liquid moves through a pipe into part of your abdomen. From there it filters unwanted items from your blood. After a specific time, the liquid with unwanted waste items moves out of your abdomen and is disposed of.

Kidney Transplant in the case of Kidney failure

Generally, Kidney Transplant involves, replacing your failing kidney with a healthy Kidney. Such as, a healthy kidney must be available from any Alive Donor or from the deceased donor. After replacing the failed kidney with a healthy kidney, then a new kidney starts its function just as your old healthy kidney does.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

People who have reached the end stage of kidney failure where the patient is losing about 80 percent of their kidney functioning capabilities and are having a glomerular filtration rate of 15 and above are eligible to go for a dialysis treatment (either haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis). Those who are suffering from chronic kidney failure and are already on dialysis treatment can go for a kidney transplantation surgery.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Patients who are more than 70 years of age and diagnosed to be in the advanced stage of kidney failure are not eligible for a conservative management treatment option. For them a dialysis or transplantation treatment is necessary.

Are there any side effects?

The common side effects of haemodialysis treatment are infections such as sepsis, low blood pressure, itchiness, hernia, weight gain, muscle cramps and peritonitis. The side effects that patients mostly suffer from after undergoing Dianeal PD-1 or Peritoneal Dialysis solution are bleeding, peritonitis, catheter blockage, abdominal cramps, infections around the area where the catheter was inserted, high or low blood volume in the body.

A kidney transplant surgery can lead to the rise of various complications such as infections, blood clots, bleeding, leaking or blockage of the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder, death, heart attacks or a possible stroke. The donated kidney might also fail or be rejected. Patients are prescribed a number of drugs to prevent the body’s reaction to reject the donated kidney. These anti-rejection drugs resultantly cause some side effects such as high blood pressure, weight gain, high cholesterol, acne, osteoporosis and osteonecrosis, increased hair growth or increased hair fall and edema (puffiness).

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

When undergoing kidney transplant surgery you need to follow certain post-treatment guidelines. After the surgery you may need to spend around five to seven days on a transplant unit. You will also be kept under observation in case of any infection and rejection of the donor kidney by the body. At this time you will need to take a number of anti-rejection drugs as a precautionary measure against these possibilities.

How long does it take to recover?

The time for recovery from a kidney dialysis treatment varies for every patient and is usually somewhere between 2 hours to 12 hours. In other cases it can take even longer.

For those who have gone for kidney transplantation the recovery time for a patient is about three to eight weeks after which a person can resume normal activities. Patient should avoid any intense form of exercise as well as lifting of heavy objects had kidney transplantation till six weeks.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

For dialysis there is no guarantee that the results of it will be permanent. For people who are above 70 years of age and those who are already in the advanced stage of Chronic kidney disorder might have to go for kidney transplantation in case the dialysis treatments or the conservative management treatments fail. Similarly, those who have had kidney transplantation stand the chance of facing donor kidney rejection by the body.

How to prevent kidney failure?

These are the measures that can be taken for kidney prevention: If you are taking any medication then you must follow the instructions and do not take medicine in too high dose as it can make the level of toxins in the body very high. Thus this makes the kidney overloaded and can cause kidney failure.

You should manage your kidney properly because most of the kidney failure happens when management is not done properly. You can adopt the following measures in order to manage your kidney:

  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Taking your doctor’s advice seriously
  • Not overdosing the medication and taking them as prescribed
  • Keeping your blood pressure and diabetes under control

What is the best diet for persons suffering from kidney failure?

This is the best diet for people suffering from kidney failure:

  • People must avoid table salt or sodium intake in the body
  • Instead of salt people must try other spices and herbs
  • Avoid packaged food because it contains a high level of sodium content.
  • Rinse the canned vegetables properly before eating.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

In case you are diagnosed with Chronic kidney disorder you may be able to follow certain home remedies as an alternative to medical treatment should you not want to go for it. The doctor will prescribe you to adopt a special diet which do not contain sodium. Also, you have to limit protein intake per day. And you should also take food items that are low in potassium.