Home Lifestyle Kidney Failure: Causes, Types, and Symptoms

Kidney Failure: Causes, Types, and Symptoms


Kidney failure occurs when your kidneys lose the ability to sufficiently filter waste from your blood, filter extra water out of your blood, and help control your blood pressure.

It can also affect red blood cell production and vitamin D metabolism needed for bone health. Many conditions, diseases, and medicines can create situations that lead to this condition.

When your kidneys are damaged, they may not work as well as they should. If the damage to your kidneys continues to get worse, you have chronic kidney disease which may lead to the need for dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Kidney failure is the last (most severe) stage of chronic kidney disease, this is why it called end-stage renal disease[ESRD]

Now, we are going to discuss the causes of Kidney failure but before that let know the work of the kidney.

Healthy kidneys:

Keep a balance of water and minerals (such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus) in your blood

Remove waste from your blood after digestion, muscle activity, and exposure to chemicals or medications

Make renin, which your body uses to help manage your blood pressure

Make a chemical called erythropoietin, which prompts your body to make red blood cells

Make an active form of vitamin D, needed for bone health and other things

Causes of Kidney Failure:

Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD.

High blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD. Other problems that can cause kidney failure include:

Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and IgA nephropathy

Genetic diseases (diseases you are born with), such as polycystic kidney disease

Nephrotic syndrome

Urinary tract problems

Symptoms of Kidney Diseases

More tired, have less energy or are having trouble concentrating.

A severe decrease in kidney function can lead to anemia, which can cause people to feel tired, weak and can make it hard to concentrate.

Have trouble sleeping.

When the kidneys aren’t purifying properly, toxins stay in the blood rather than leaving the body through the urine. This can make it difficult to sleep.

Dry and itchy skin.

Healthy kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from your body, help make red blood cells, help keep bones strong and work to maintain the right amount of minerals in your blood. When the kidneys are no longer able to keep the right balance of minerals and nutrients in your blood, it causes Dry and itchy skin

Need to urinate more often.

If you feel the need to urinate more often, especially at night, this can be a sign of kidney disease. When the kidneys filters are damaged, it can cause an increase in the urge to urinate. Sometimes this can also be a sign of a urinary infection or enlarged prostate in men.

Blood in your urine.

Healthy kidneys keep the blood cells in the body when filtering wastes from the blood to create urine, but when the kidney’s filters have been damaged, these blood cells can start to “leak” out into the urine. Meanwhile, blood in the urine can be as a result of tumors, kidney stones or an infection.

Your urine is foamy.

Excessive bubbles in the urine indicate protein in the urine. The common protein found in urine, albumin, is the same protein that is found in eggs.

Experiencing persistent puffiness around your eyes.

This puffiness around your eyes can be due to the fact that your kidneys are leaking a large amount of protein in the urine, rather than keeping it in the body.

Your ankles and feet are swollen.

Decreased kidney function can lead to sodium retention, causing swelling in your feet and ankles. Swelling in the lower extremities can also be a sign of heart disease, liver disease and chronic leg vein problems.

You have a poor appetite.

This is a very general symptom, but a buildup of toxins resulting from reduced kidney function can be one of the causes.

Your muscles are cramping. Electrolyte imbalances can result from impaired kidney function. For example, low calcium levels and poorly controlled phosphorus may contribute to muscle cramping.

Types of Kidney Failure

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is usually caused by an event that leads to kidney malfunction, such as dehydration, blood loss from major surgery or injury, or the use of medicines.

 Acute kidney failure can occur when:

You have a condition that slows blood flow to your kidneys

You experience direct damage to your kidneys

Your kidneys’ urine drainage tubes (ureters) become blocked and wastes can’t leave your body through your urine

Signs and symptoms of acute kidney failure may include:

Decreased urine output, although occasionally urine output remains normal

Fluid retention, causing swelling in your legs, ankles or feet

Shortness of breath





Irregular heartbeat

Chest pain or pressure

Seizures or coma in severe cases

 When to see a doctor

See your doctor immediately or seek emergency care if you have signs or symptoms of acute kidney failure.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is usually caused by a long-term disease that slowly damages the kidneys and reduces their function over time. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) usually gets worse slowly, and symptoms may not appear until your kidneys are badly damaged.

Chronic kidney disease can occur when you have:


High blood pressure (hypertension)

Heart disease

Having a family member with kidney disease

Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian

Being over 60 years old

In the late stages of CKD, as you are nearing kidney failure (ESRD), you may notice symptoms that are caused by waste and extra fluid building up in your body.

You may notice one or more of the following symptoms if your kidneys are beginning to fail:


Muscle cramps

Nausea and vomiting

Not feeling hungry

Swelling in your feet and ankles

Too much urine (pee) or not enough urine

Trouble catching your breath

Trouble sleeping

If your kidneys stop working suddenly (acute kidney failure), you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:


Abdominal (belly) pain

Back pain







Treatment of kidney failure

If you have kidney failure (end-stage renal disease or ESRD), you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. There is no cure for ESRD, but many people live long lives while on dialysis or after having a kidney transplant.

There are just a few options for treating kidney failure, including kidney transplant and several types of dialysis. Your doctor can help you figure out which treatment is best for you.

Dialysis is a treatment that filters and purifies the blood using a machine. This helps keep your fluids and electrolytes in balance when the kidneys can’t do their job but it cannot do everything that healthy kidneys do.

Kidney failure/ESRD diet

Your diet needs may depend on the type of dialysis you are on (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) and your treatment schedule.



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