Acute Kidney Injury: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Acute Kidney injury or Failure also known as Acute renal Failure or last stage kidney disease is a medical condition in which the kidneys no longer work. The kidneys are the organ of the body that is supposed to remove liquid waste product from your body. It is the organ that produces the urine you pass out everyday. When it stops doing this Function, we say that the Kidneys has failed.

When this happens, the person is going to have symptoms of Kidney Failure such as: leg swelling, feeling tired or confusion.

The causes of Kidney Failure includes medical conditions like: diabetes, hypertension, polycystic kidney disease and Nephrotic disorder.

There are two types of kidney Failure or Renal failure. They Include:

  • Acute Kidney Injury/Acute Renal Failure
  • Chronic Kidney Disease or Chronic Renal Failure

In or discussion today, we would center our focus on Acute Kidney Injury. To read about chronic Kidney Disease, click here.

What is Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)

Acute Kidney Injury also known as Acute Kidney Failure or Renal Failure is the type of failure that happens suddenly, that is, the failure occurs within 7 days of seeing first symptoms, unlike the chronic type that can take years to occur.

This occurs due to a blockage that caused reduction or total cut-out of the blood supply to the kidney. It can also be as a result of the kidneys being over-burdened with toxins (poisons).

acute kidney injury and chronic kidney failure
Acute Kidney Injury. Image Credit: Medicover Hospitals

Causes of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)

Causes of Acute kidney Injury are anything that can cut of the blood supply to the kidneys all of a sudden. Examples of this are:

  • Accidents, wounds, or intricasies from medical procedures (e.g: Bypass surgery).
  • Drugs overdoses, unplanned of medications (e.g: chemotherapy), may also cause the beginning of severe kidney damage.

An individual whose kidneys are failing require steady treatment until their kidneys regain capacity.

Let us Tell you a little story:

Mr Okafor presented to the hospital to see the doctor due to some complaints and their conversation goes as follows:

Mr Okafor: ‘Doc., I have been feeling very tired for days now. Maybe two weeks. My body has been scratching me for a while and my legs have also been swelling. So I said let me start coming to the hospital before I die in my house.’

Doc: ‘It’s good that you have come. How long have your legs been itching?’

Mr Okafor: ‘1 week.’

Doc: ‘What about the leg swelling?’

Mr Okafor: ‘7 weeks’

Doc: ‘Have you been having hiccups?’

Mr Okafor: ‘A few times this week?’

Doc: ‘ How about Vomiting? Loss of appetite? Chest pain? Breathlessness?’

Mr Okafor: ‘No o. Ahn ahn Doc, you want me to have everything?’

Doc: ‘It’s not like that. I’m just trying to help you remember.’ ‘Do you have diabetes?’

Mr Okafor: ‘No.’

Doc: ‘Hypertension?’

Mr Okafor: ‘I used to have but it has gone now.’

Doc: ‘It has gone? What do you mean, Mr. Okafor?’

Mr Okafor: ‘Last two years, at one outreach like that, they said I had it. And they told me drugs to buy. After one month, when I checked in a chemist’s shop, he said the thing had come down. So I stopped taking the drugs.’

Doc: ‘Sir, that is not how it works. Hypertension is a life-long disease. At most, the doctor can reduce the dose of your medications. But he’ll never tell you to stop taking your drugs. Ok?’

Mr Okafor: ‘Yes Doc’

Doc: ‘Is there anyone in your family that has kidney disease?’

Mr Okafor: ‘That’s what the doctors said was wrong with my mother that she died. Even her brother.’

Doc: ‘Ok. Thank you. Please now I’ll need you to roll up your sleeves so I can check your blood pressure.’ ‘It’s high: 170/110 mmHg.’

Mr Okafor: ‘So what is the way forward now Doc.?’

Doc: ‘I’ll need to carry out some tests. I’ll just fill the forms and you can go and do them.’

Mr Okafor: ‘At least tell me the name of the tests.’

Doc: ‘Full blood count, serum electrolyte, urea and creatinine, urinalysis and renal ultrasound.’

Mr Okafor: ‘So what exactly is the problem?’

Doc: ‘Your kidneys are failing; you may have chronic kidney disease. You have some of the risk factors for it: hypertension, diabetes, drinking excessive alcohol, smoking, using bleaching creams and soaps, having someone in your family who has had kidney disease, using herbal medication, overusing pain killers like ibuprofen, diclofenac, among many others can cause the kidneys to fail.’

Mr Okafor: ‘Nawa for this disease o. I didn’t even know all these things could cause it. I have to talk to my wife about those creams she’s using. Abi there’s a treatment?’

Doc: ‘I’ll give you some medications for your hypertension and the leg swelling. The itching and the tiredness are happening because your kidney is not excreting the toxins that it’s supposed to be excreting; you’re going to have to go for dialysis so that a machine can help your kidney do it’s job.’

Mr Okafor: ‘Thank you very much Doc.’

Doc: ‘No problem. Do you have any more questions?’

Mr Okafor: ‘No.’

Doc: ‘Have a nice day.’

Mr Okafor has been diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure and would need assistance for his kidney. This is provided using a Dialysis machine, until he can find a suitable donor for a Renal Transplant.

Share this to enlighten others, and feel free to ask any questions you may have, and I would try to answer you as soon as I can.

Authors

  • Ike-okonkwo Adaobi is a Final year medical student of the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH in Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State, Nigeria

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