Acute Kidney Injury

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When your kidneys stop working suddenly (and usually over a short period of time), it is called an Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).  AKI is also sometimes called acute kidney failure or acute renal failure. It is very serious and requires immediate treatment.

AKI is often reversible when diagnosed early and treated quickly. If your kidneys were healthy before the event that caused the injury and you are treated for AKI right away, your kidneys may work normally or almost normally after treatment. However, some people have lasting kidney damage after AKI which then leads to chronic kidney disease.

FAQs

About Acute Kidney Injury

Acute kidney injury can be caused by decreased blood flow due to low blood pressure or organ failure.  It is characterized by the inability to produce urine and an accumulation of wastes.  Acute kidney injury is often associated with trauma or life threatening infection such as sepsis, burns, or blockage of the urinary tract (kidney stones, tumors or enlarged prostrate); its treatment depends on the cause and often includes antibiotics, fluid and electrolyte management.

Medications are another common reason for acute kidney injury medicines included but not limited to:

  • Antibiotics
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Medications used to treat cancer and HIV
  • IV contrast dye
  • Ulcer medications
  • Some blood pressure medicines

Read and follow all instructions on the label and make sure every doctor you see knows about all of the medicines, vitamins, or natural health products you take. This means anything you take with or without a prescription.

Other chemicals can also cause acute kidney injury. They include insecticides, herbicides, and other types of industrial chemicals.

Common symptoms of acute kidney injury include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of the legs or ankles
  • Fatigue or confusion
  • lower urine output
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • In severe cases, acute kidney injury may cause seizures and/or coma

Treatment of acute kidney injury depends on the underlying cause.  Supportive management of the kidneys with medication and maintaining fluid balance may require hospitalization.  During the acute illness, dialysis may be recommended temporarily to help keep your blood clean, while your kidneys regain the ability to function.

Following acute kidney injury, you’re at greater risk of having chronic kidney disease, heart disease, or a stroke.  To monitor your health and the health of your kidneys, your nephrologist may have you come in regularly for check-ups.

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