Kidney Failure


Renal disease or kidney failure is when the kidneys fail to work requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. There are 2 types of kidney failures, namely acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure. The kidneys filter wastes and excess fluids from blood, which are excreted in the urine. Dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and waste build up in the body when there is a kidney failure. Kidney failure is the last stage of chronic kidney disease and it is also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

5 Stages of Kidney Disease
Kidney Functions/GFRDescription
Stage 1>90%Normal or High Function
Stage 260%-89%Mildly Decreased Function
Stage 330%-59%Mild to Moderately Decreased Function
Stage 415%-29%Severely Decreased Function
Stage 5<15%Kidney Failure
What Causes Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is caused by series of other health issues that have lead to permanent damage to the kidneys. Most common causes of kidney failure include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Blood pressure
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Genetic disease (polycystic kidney disease)
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Heart attack
  • Illegal drug use and drug abuse
  • Urinary tract problems
What are the Symptoms of Kidney Failure?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) progresses gradually, and they are asymptomatic until the kidneys are totally damaged. Some of the symptoms noted during renal failure are:

  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain

A drastic slowdown in the functioning of the kidney leads to the buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood, thus making the individual feel tired, weak, and hard to concentrate. Anemia is another complication of kidney disease leading to weakness and fatigue.

An urge to urinate more often is also indicative of kidney disease or a damaged kidney filter is also a sign for urinary infection. Further, when the filters are damaged blood cells start to leak out into the urine.

Protein in the urine means that the filters of the kidneys are not functioning normally, thereby letting the proteins to leak in the urine rather than storing them for good health. Thus the urine becomes frothy and foamy when compared to normal urine consistency.

Decreased kidney function leads to sodium retention, which causes the ankles and feet to swell. Finally, impaired kidney function leads to electrolyte imbalance contributing to muscle cramping.

Diagnosis of Renal Failure

Diagnosis of kidney disease is not a direct test that can be performed. When diagnosis for other medical conditions are performed, kidney disease is noted to be a consequence of the primary disease.

Diagnosis of kidney failure is carried out by means of a blood test, which measures BUN, GFR, and creatinine, in turn helping to measure the buildup of waste products in the blood. Urine tests measure the amount of proteins and concentration of electrolytes, and the presence of abnormal cells. Abdominal ultrasound and kidney biopsy are other tests used in the diagnosis of renal failure.

Treatment Options for Kidney Failure

There is no cure to kidney failure. Some treatment options helps to lessen the severity of the failure by helping the human system to function normally. Dialysis or a kidney transplant are such treatment options which help in the normal functioning of the body. The kidneys cleanse the blood, controls chemicals and fluids in the body. It also helps control blood pressure and aid in the making of the RBC. Dialysis partially fulfills all these tasks, though most of them are not taken care of. Therefore, even when kidney failure is being treated, there might be some problems persisting.

Stem Cells and Renal Failure

Stem cells are known for the human body’s repair mechanism. These stem cells differentiate into any functional tissue cells. Kidney cells necrosis is treated with mesenchymal stem cells that replenish the dead cells once they reach the kidneys via normal blood circulation. Individuals suffering from moderate to late/terminal stage kidney failure are recommended stem cell therapy.

Physiology of Kidney Failure