Urinary system: Renal failure

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Renal failure happens when the kidneys don’t function at all or function at a low capacity, meaning that they are unable to filter blood properly.

As a result, a lot of waste products along with fluid build up in the body, affecting other organs in the body including the heart. In kidney failure, the individual can become very sick very quickly, especially if treatment is delayed.

There are two types of renal failure: acute and chronic. Acute renal failure, or acute kidney injury, happens when there’s a sudden loss of kidney function.

One cause of acute kidney injury is when there’s a decreased blood flow to the kidneys, which can happen in the case of bleeding, severe diarrhea, or burns.

Other causes of acute kidney injury include severe infections; severe allergic reactions; poisoning with substances, like antifreeze; or ingesting certain medications that can damage the kidneys, such as large quantities of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, like Ibuprofen.

Chronic kidney failure, or chronic kidney disease, happens when there’s a progressive decrease in kidney function, meaning that the number of functioning nephrons are gradually lost.

Common causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Both these conditions damage the blood vessels in the glomerulus.

Other causes include chronic infections, such as chronic pyelonephritis; infection of the kidneys; or blockage in the urinary system, like when there’s a large kidney stone or tumor.


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