Learn About Acute Kidney Failure

What is the definition of Acute Kidney Failure?

Acute kidney failure is the rapid (less than 2 days) loss of your kidneys' ability to remove waste and help balance fluids and electrolytes in your body.

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What are the alternative names for Acute Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure; Renal failure; Renal failure - acute; ARF; Kidney injury - acute

What are the causes of Acute Kidney Failure?

There are many possible causes of kidney damage. They include:

  • Acute tubular necrosis (ATN; damage to the tubule cells of the kidneys)
  • Autoimmune kidney disease
  • Blood clot from cholesterol (cholesterol emboli)
  • Decreased blood flow due to very low blood pressure, which can result from burns, dehydration, hemorrhage, injury, septic shock, serious illness, or surgery
  • Disorders that cause clotting within the kidney blood vessels
  • Infections that directly injure the kidney, such as acute pyelonephritis or septicemia
  • Pregnancy complications, including placenta abruption or placenta previa
  • Urinary tract blockage
  • Illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroine
  • Medicines including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antibiotics and blood pressure medicines, intravenous contrast (dye), some cancer and HIV drugs
What are the symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure?

Symptoms of acute kidney failure may include any of the following:

  • Bloody stools
  • Breath odor and metallic taste in the mouth
  • Bruising easily
  • Changes in mental status or mood
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased sensation, especially in the hands or feet
  • Fatigue or slow sluggish movements
  • Flank pain (between the ribs and hips)
  • Hand tremor
  • Heart murmur
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting, may last for days
  • Nosebleeds
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling due to the body keeping in fluid (may be seen in the legs, ankles, and feet)
  • Urination changes, such as little or no urine, excessive urination at night, or urination that stops completely
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What are the current treatments for Acute Kidney Failure?

Once the cause is found, the goal of treatment is to help your kidneys work again and prevent fluid and waste from building up in your body while they heal. Usually, you will have to stay overnight in the hospital for treatment.

The amount of liquid you drink will be limited to the amount of urine you can produce. You will be told what you may and may not eat to reduce the buildup of toxins that the kidneys would normally remove. Your diet may need to be high in carbohydrates and low in protein, salt, and potassium.

You may need antibiotics to treat or prevent infection. Water pills (diuretics) may be used to help remove fluid from your body.

Medicines will be given through a vein to help control your blood potassium level.

You may need dialysis. This is a treatment that does what healthy kidneys normally do -- rid the body of harmful wastes, extra salt, and water. Dialysis can save your life if your potassium levels are dangerously high. Dialysis will also be used if:

  • Your mental status changes
  • You develop pericarditis
  • You retain too much fluid
  • You cannot remove nitrogen waste products from your body

Dialysis will most often be short term. In some cases, the kidney damage is so great that dialysis is needed permanently.

Who are the top Acute Kidney Failure Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Pediatric Nephrology

Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center

Burnet Campus

3333 Burnet Ave 
Cincinnati, OH 45229

Stuart Goldstein is a Nephrologist and a Pediatric Nephrologist in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Goldstein has been practicing medicine for over 32 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Acute Kidney Failure. He is also highly rated in 12 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Acute Kidney Failure, Chronic Kidney Disease, High Blood Pressure in Infants, and Glomerulonephritis. He is licensed to treat patients in Ohio. Dr. Goldstein is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in
Intensive Care Medicine

King's College London

London, GB 

Marlies Ostermann is a Nephrologist and an Intensive Care Medicine expert in London, United Kingdom. Ostermann is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Acute Kidney Failure. They are also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Acute Kidney Failure, Chronic Kidney Disease, Kidney Transplant, and Low Sodium Level.

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Highly rated in

University Of Alberta

Department Of Critical Care Medicine 
Edmonton, AB, CA 

Sean Bagshaw is in Edmonton, Canada. Bagshaw is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Acute Kidney Failure. He is also highly rated in 8 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Acute Kidney Failure, Sepsis, Chronic Kidney Disease, and Acute Tubular Necrosis.

When should I contact a medical professional for Acute Kidney Failure?

Call your provider if your urine output slows or stops or you have other symptoms of acute kidney failure.

How do I prevent Acute Kidney Failure?

To prevent acute kidney failure:

  • Health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes should be well controlled.
  • Avoid drugs and medicines that can cause kidney injury.
Kidney anatomy
What are the latest Acute Kidney Failure Clinical Trials?
The Impact of Acute Kidney Injury Requiring Renal Replacement Therapy on the Incidence and Recovery From Critical Illness Muscle Wasting
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Genomic and Biomarker Predictors of Acute Kidney Injury and Other Post-Procedural Outcomes Following Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement
What are the Latest Advances for Acute Kidney Failure?
Recovery of neurological function following type B aortic dissection complicated by paraplegia.
Chaga mushroom-induced oxalate nephropathy that clinically manifested as nephrotic syndrome: A case report.
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Pregnancy associated TMA in 13-year-old patient successfully treated with Eculizumab: case report.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : June 19, 2020
Published By : Walead Latif, MD, Nephrologist and Clinical Associate Professor, Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Molitoris BA. Acute kidney injury. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 112.

Oh MS, Briefel G. Evaluation of renal function, water, electrolytes, and acid-base balance. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 14.

Weisbord SD, Palevsky PM. Prevention and management of acute kidney injury. In: Yu ASL,Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 29.