What is Chronic Kidney Failure?

Margo Steele
Margo Steele
The kidneys and renal veins and arteries.
The kidneys and renal veins and arteries.

Urine consists of wastes and excess fluids that are removed from the blood by the filtering action of the kidneys. Chronic kidney failure, or renal failure, results when the kidneys are damaged or diseased to the degree that they are no longer able to perform this important function. This life-threatening condition usually develops gradually and may do so without producing noticeable symptoms. By the time a patient becomes symptomatic, significant damage may have occurred.

Polycystic kidney disease can cause chronic kidney failure.
Polycystic kidney disease can cause chronic kidney failure.

The causes of chronic kidney failure are many and varied. High blood pressure and diabetes, often in combination, are frequently cited, as are established chronic kidney diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, glomerulonephritis, kidney stones or kidney cancer. Additionally, lupus, vasculitis and scleroderma, which are all autoimmune diseases, are common causes. Kidney infection, renal artery stenosis, enlarged prostate and a condition that causes urine to reflux into the kidneys can also be responsible for renal failure.

Kidney stones or other bladder obstructions can cause chronic kidney failure.
Kidney stones or other bladder obstructions can cause chronic kidney failure.

Symptoms of chronic kidney failure may be subtle and may vary significantly from person to person. Generally, these signs or symptoms merit evaluation by a physician or health care provider: either frequent or decreased urination; swelling of the feet and ankles; puffiness around the eyes; nausea and vomiting; loss of appetite; muscle cramps and persistent itching. Other conditions or diseases could cause each of these symptoms; a trained professional must make the diagnosis of chronic kidney failure based on tests and a thorough examination.

Dialysis treatment may be used to compensate for chronic kidney failure.
Dialysis treatment may be used to compensate for chronic kidney failure.

Chronic kidney failure is not something to be managed at home. It requires close monitoring by a qualified health care practitioner. Treatment may require dietary changes including restricting protein, fluids, salt and potassium, which can put a strain on already damaged kidneys.

There is no cure for chronic kidney failure, however, steps can be taken to slow its progression and to treat underlying causes and factors that may contribute to it or make it worse. Complications of the disease can be treated as they occur. As the kidneys fail and toxins and wastes build up in the body, dialysis or transplantation are the only options for replacing kidney function. When to begin dialysis and when to consider transplantation are decisions best made after consultation with specialists in the field.

A urinalysis may be conducted to detect kidney stones and kidney infection.
A urinalysis may be conducted to detect kidney stones and kidney infection.

Chronic kidney disease, which can lead to kidney failure, is a growing health problem in the US. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 16.8 percent of adults over the age of 20 have chronic kidney disease, and is most common in people over 60. Hispanics, African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and Native American peoples are more likely to be affected than other segments of the population. The rising number of patients with diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure is considered a factor in the increased incidence of chronic kidney disease.

Discussion Comments

anon351121

Can the chronic renal failure patient lose his normal senses?

anon351120

Is it possible for a chronic renal failure patient to not eat food for a month?

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • The kidneys and renal veins and arteries.
      By: satin_111
      The kidneys and renal veins and arteries.
    • Polycystic kidney disease can cause chronic kidney failure.
      By: Alila
      Polycystic kidney disease can cause chronic kidney failure.
    • Kidney stones or other bladder obstructions can cause chronic kidney failure.
      By: airborne77
      Kidney stones or other bladder obstructions can cause chronic kidney failure.
    • Dialysis treatment may be used to compensate for chronic kidney failure.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Dialysis treatment may be used to compensate for chronic kidney failure.
    • A urinalysis may be conducted to detect kidney stones and kidney infection.
      By: Mi.Ti.
      A urinalysis may be conducted to detect kidney stones and kidney infection.
    • Chronic kidney failure is not something to be managed from home.
      By: maya2008
      Chronic kidney failure is not something to be managed from home.
    • A condition that causes urine to reflux into the kidneys, such as an enlarged prostate, can be responsible for renal failure.
      By: peterjunaidy
      A condition that causes urine to reflux into the kidneys, such as an enlarged prostate, can be responsible for renal failure.