Acute Kidney Failure

Acute kidney failure is also called acute kidney injury or acute renal failure.

What Is Acute Kidney Failure?

Acute kidney failure happens when your kidneys suddenly lose the ability to eliminate excess salts, fluids, and waste materials from the blood. This elimination is the core of your kidneys' main function. Body fluids can rise to dangerous levels when kidneys lose their filtering ability. The condition will also cause electrolytes and waste material to accumulate in your body, which can also be life-threatening.

Acute kidney failure is also called acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. It's common in people who are already in the hospital. It may develop rapidly over a few hours. It can also develop over a few days to weeks. People who are critically ill and need intensive care have the highest risk of developing acute kidney failure.

Acute kidney failure can be life-threatening and requires intensive treatment. However, it may be reversible. If you're in good health otherwise, recovery is possible.

What Are the Causes of Acute Kidney Failure?

Acute kidney failure can occur for many reasons. Among the most common reasons are:

Acute tubular necrosis (ATN)
Severe or sudden dehydration
Toxic kidney injury from poisons or certain medications
Autoimmune kidney diseases, such as acute nephritic syndrome and interstitial nephritis

Reduced blood flow can damage your kidneys. The following conditions can lead to decreased blood flow to your kidneys:

Low blood pressure

Septic shock
Serious illness

Certain disorders can cause clotting within your kidney's blood vessels, and this can lead to acute kidney failure. These conditions include:

Hemolytic uremic syndrome
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic thrombotic purpura (ITTP)
Malignant hypertension
Transfusion reaction

Some infections, such as septicemia and acute pyelonephritis, can directly injure your kidneys.

Pregnancy can also cause complications that harm the kidneys, including placenta previa and placenta abruption.

What Are the Risk Factors for Acute Kidney Failure?

The chances of acquiring acute kidney failure are greater if you're an older person or if you have any of the following long-term health problems:

Kidney disease
Liver disease
Diabetes, especially if it's not well controlled
Heart failure

If you're ill or being treated in a hospital's intensive care unit, you're at an extremely high risk for acute kidney failure. Being the recipient of heart surgery, abdominal surgery, or a bone marrow transplant can also increase your risk.