December 7, 2023
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kidney failure blood test BLOOD TEST Health

Kidney Failure: A Simple Guide To Understand The Condition

Kidney failure

There are several complications if the symptoms of kidney failure are ignored. This is a guide for you to stay educated on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention from the disease.

What is the primary function of the kidney in the human body?

The human body consists of 2 kidneys. Both of which are in the form of a bean shape structure. Kidneys are at the back of the human body around both sides of the spinal cord, just below the rib cage.

Kidneys maintain a balance of minerals and water in your blood. But the primary function is to dump waste and fluids from your body via urine.

Following are the few other functions of the kidney:

  • Keep the bones healthy
  • Controls the production of red blood cells
  • Release the hormone that regulates blood pressure
  • Remove drugs from the body 
  • Remove toxins from the blood

What Is Meant By The Term Kidney Failure?

It is a condition that requires kidney replacements. Both kidneys are unable to keep body chemicals in balance. Your kidneys also do not perform other functions. Such as it is unable to remove waste, toxins, and excess water from your blood.


What are the causes of kidney failure?

Kidney failure can occur due to many different causes, affecting the ability of kidneys to function. Here are some of the most common causes of kidney failure, explained in simple terms.     

Here are two types of kidney failure: 

Acute kidney injury(AKI), which occurs suddenly, 

Chronic kidney disease(CKD) develops slowly and gradually.

Causes of acute kidney injury AKI: 

  • Severe dehydration
  • An infection 
  • A sudden drop in blood flow
  • Kidney damage 

Causes of chronic kidney failure CKD:

  • Diabetes 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Autoimmune disorder 
  • Kidney infection 
  • Genetic disorder 
  • Blockage in the urinary tract 

What is the main reason for kidney failure? How do you prevent it?

It’s essential to note that these are just a few causes of kidney failure. Various other factors, such as certain infections, cancers, and a family history of kidney disease, can also contribute to the development of kidney failure.

By understanding these causes, you can take steps to prevent or manage these risks. Leading to a healthier lifestyle that decreases the risk of kidney failure. Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional and early diagnosis are helpful in identifying causes of kidney failure.



What are the symptoms of kidney failure?

The symptoms of kidney failure can vary depending on whether it’s acute (AKI) or chronic (CKD). It also depends on the stage of the condition you are at. 

Some common signs to observe:

  1. Fatigue and weakness
  2. Swelling in the feet, ankles, and hands
  3. Decreased urine output or changes in its colour
  4. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
  5. Blood in the urine
  6. Difficulty in concentrating and mental fog
  7. Persistent itching or dry skin
  8. Muscle cramp
  9. Shortness of breath 

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.


How to diagnose kidney failure?

To diagnose kidney failure, your healthcare provider may recommend a variety of different tests to make sure of the condition. The few tests can include:


Blood tests

  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): 
The Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test determines the amount of nitrogen in your blood. It helps doctors to know about the functioning of the kidney and liver.
  • Creatinine: 

The Creatinine test determines the creatinine levels in your blood. Your kidney removes an excess amount of creatinine from the body via urine. 

  • Estimated GFR: 

Estimated GFR Measures the filtration rate based on age, race, and sex. 

Urine test 

Your urine sample is taken for a Urine test to measure the protein levels.


MRI and kidney ultrasound


What are the treatments available for kidney failure?

There are several types of treatments available for kidney failure. The treatment you get depends on the stage you are at and the cause of it.

1. Medication 

Certain medications help manage conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. It helps to prevent further kidney damage.

2. Dialysis 

This process filters blood artificially when the kidneys can no longer perform the task. Here are two ways to perform dialysis: 

  • hemodialysis (a machine does the job) 
  • peritoneal dialysis (using the belly’s lining as a filter).


3. Kidney Transplant 

For people experiencing advanced stages of kidney failure, a kidney transplant is a more permanent solution. A healthy kidney from a donor replaces the failed kidney, allowing the body to function at its best.


How can I prevent kidney failure from happening?

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to filter waste products from the blood. It can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. Several measures help to reduce the risk of kidney failure.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle 

It plays a vital role in benefiting kidney health. Regular exercise helps to promote good blood circulation and reduces the risk of conditions that may contribute to kidney failure.

Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet 

It includes consuming a good amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while limiting the intake of processed foods, sodium, and saturated fats. 

Moreover, staying hydrated 

Drinking plenty of water in a day helps to remove toxins from the body and improve kidney function. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, it is highly recommended.

Avoid usage of OTC

You can prevent the disease by avoiding the excessive use of over-the-counter pain medicines. Particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Regular health check-ups

Health check-ups play a crucial role in detecting and managing conditions early on. It helps to lower the chances of kidney failure. 

Quitting harmful habits 

Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption. These habits can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of kidney disease.



Kidney failure may sound terrifying. But with good knowledge of its causes, symptoms, and treatments, you can prepare yourself to tackle it. Without care and treatment, the condition can cause significant damage to your kidneys. Prevention is the key to reducing the risk of kidney failure. Treatments are also available for kidney failure, but they can be costly. 

Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance and support throughout your kidney health journey. Stay updated and take care of your health!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of kidney transplantation over dialysis in case of end-stage renal disease (kidney failure)?

Dialysis is a life-protecting process, but it shortens the lifespan of a patient. A successful kidney transplant can increase the life expectancy of a person. Kidney transplants can be costly compared to dialysis, but it is worth it.  

What are GFR and eGFR?

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a prime indicator of renal function. The purpose of GFR is to tell how well a kidney is filtering. Whereas, Estimated GFR (eGFR) is the result of your blood tests measuring creatinine levels based on age, race, and sex of a person.

What are the effects of delaying dialysis in CKD patients?

If someone at dialysis skips their treatment, it can cause an increase in 2 minerals in the body (Potassium and phosphorus). Potassium causes heart disease and various other diseases that further leads to death. Phosphorus weakens your bones.

How does kidney failure progress from standard to end-stage renal failure (ESRF)?

When kidney failure progresses, patients can experience a variety of different changes. These include:

  • Less or no urination 
  • Dry and itchy skin 
  • Headache 
  • Weight loss 
  • Nausea
  • Easy bruising 
  • Experiencing nail and skin changes 

What are the signs of a healthy kidney?

  • Clear and healthy skin 
  • No cramping in muscles 
  • No problem with urination 
  • No changes in the frequency of urination 
  • No swelling and puffiness

What are the stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

There are 5 main stages of CKD.

Stages of CKD GFR Level ((ml/min)/(1.73m²)
Stage 1  Above 90 
Stage 2  60-89
Stage 3a 45-59
Stage 3b 30-44
Stage 4 15-29
Stage 5 Below 15


Consult a healthcare provider before reaching stage 3. Kidney functions start to get affected at stage 3 and worsen as the stage progresses. To avoid complications it’s better to consult a doctor. 


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