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World Kidney Day 2023: What You Should Know About Acute Kidney Injury, Expert Weighs In

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), sometimes also called Acute Renal Failure (ARF), is the condition when kidneys unexpectedly stop functioning properly.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Mar 10, 2023 18:06 IST
World Kidney Day 2023: What You Should Know About Acute Kidney Injury, Expert Weighs In

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Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), sometimes also called Acute Renal Failure (ARF), is the condition when the kidneys unexpectedly stop functioning properly. Anything from a slight decline in kidney function to complete renal failure within hours or days is possible in this condition.

Kidneys filter waste materials and maintain the balance of fluids and electrolytes in our body. Due to the improper kidney function, AKI causes an accumulation of toxic materials in the blood and a fluid imbalance in the body.

The brain, heart, and lungs are just a few of the many organs that can be affected by AKI. Therefore, it is typical for some AKI patients to be admitted to the hospital for intensive care while they are critically unwell. Dr Mamidi Pranith Ram, Consultant Nephrologist and Renal Transplant Physician, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, explains in detail about causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of AKI.

Also ReadChronic Kidney Disease: Expert Explains Its Stages

What Are The Causes Of Acute Kidney Injury?

AKI can result from the following reasons:

  • Hypovolemia caused by acute gastroenteritis, which lowers blood volume, heart failure that prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the kidneys; or sepsis, which reduces blood flow to the kidneys (a systemic bacterial infection that affects blood flow).
  • Kidney damage resulting from innate kidney issues, such as inflammation and injury brought on by infections, particular drugs, and/or autoimmune diseases.
  • Urine obstruction caused by obstruction of kidney drainage, including prostate enlargement, kidney stones, or malignancy.
  • Decreased blood volume caused by extensive bleeding, diarrhoea/vomiting, or extreme dehydration.
  • Several drugs impact kidney function, including Over-the-Counter (OTCs) and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicines (NSAIDs).

Signs Of Acute Kidney Injury

The severe cases of AKI show the following symptoms:

  • Reduced or no urine
  • Urine with blood in it (red or brown discolouration)
  • Fatigue, vomiting, nausea, swelling in the legs or feet, and a lack of appetite
  • State of confusion
  • Seizures (fits), breathing difficulties, and coma

Risk Factors For Acute Kidney Injury

Age, pre-existing renal disease, additional comorbid illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, certain drugs, dehydration, sepsis, and specific medical procedures, etc., are the risk factors for AKI.

Also ReadWhen Is A Kidney Replacement Therapy Needed? Nephrologist Shares Everything In Detail

Diagnosis Of Acute Kidney Injury

Acute renal failure or even chronic kidney disease can arise from AKI. Hence, it should be detected as soon as possible. Depending on your clinical condition and the symptoms you're having, the following tests might be carried out:

  • You will be monitored for how much urine you pass each day (urine output) to help identify the severity of the renal failure.
  • A urinalysis to check for indications of kidney failure.
  • Blood tests for protein, creatinine, urea nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium should be performed to examine the kidney function.  
  • Your blood test will also help determine your Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), determining how well your kidneys function.
  • Imaging tests, like ultrasounds, can help check for abnormalities within and outside the kidneys.
  • In some circumstances, you may be required to undergo a procedure called a biopsy, in which a specialised needle is used to extract a small portion of your kidney to observe the signs of malignancy.

Treatment Options For Acute Kidney Injury

These are standard treatment options for acute renal failure:

  • Therapies for underlying kidney issues: This includes locating and treating the underlying disease or injury that caused the kidney impairment in the first place.
  • Therapies to balance the quantity of fluid in your blood: This includes Intravenous (IV) fluids if you are dehydrated and drugs (diuretics) to help your body flush out excess fluid if you have excess fluid (water retention) in your body.
  • Dialysis to eliminate toxins from your blood: If toxins accumulate in your blood, you could require short-term dialysis to assist your body in getting rid of toxins and extra fluids while your kidneys recover. 

Until your kidneys start functioning normally again, you might need therapies to ensure your body has the right quantity of fluid, salt, and nutrients. Medication and dietary modifications are also the possible therapies.

Foods high in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium (salt) should often be avoided or limited for people with acute renal damage. You can get help from a nutritionist in creating a nutritious diet chart that includes the right proportions of each nutrient. You may also need to limit your daily water and fluids intake.

Also ReadHow To Take Care Of Your Kidney Post Transplant, Expert Explains

Preventive Measures In Reducing The Risk Of AKI

Taking precautions can help lower the risk of AKI. These actions consist of the following:

  • Keep up a healthy diet and lifestyle, which includes regular exercise also.
  • Check your cholesterol and blood pressure readings.
  • Avoid taking OTC drugs without consulting your doctor.
  • Drink a lot of water to avoid being dehydrated.
  • NSAIDs should not be taken frequently. Do not take herbal supplements without consulting a physician.
  • Avoid consuming tobacco and alcohol.
  • Watch for current medical concerns, like diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Avoid using medications that can harm your kidneys, such as certain antibiotics and chemotherapy medications.
  • If you encounter any signs, seek medical care for acute kidney injuries, such as decreased urine output, swelling, fatigue, or confusion.

Do I Need Follow-up Care?

You will undergo additional lab tests as you recover from a kidney injury. This will enable your doctor to track how well your kidneys are functioning. AKI may be difficult to prevent or avoid, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your kidneys can be helpful. Consult your doctor about preventing AKI if you suffer from these conditions.

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