Types of Renal Failure
by Alyssa LaRenzie
Renal failure, or kidney failure, occurs when the kidneys stop working or function poorly. Healthy kidneys filter out and balance excess fluids and electrolytes. When the kidneys stop working, fluids build up to dangerous levels. The two main types are acute and chronic renal failure.
Acute Renal Failure
Acute renal failure (ARF), also known as acute kidney failure, is a sudden stop of kidney function, which usually occurs in people with pre-existing medical conditions. Common symptoms, if any, include reduced production of urine, dehydration and swelling in arms or legs.
Chronic Renal Failure
Chronic renal failure, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD), is a gradual failure or dysfunction of the kidneys. Deterioration of kidney health usually occurs due to other conditions, commonly high blood pressure and diabetes. CKD often negatively affects all of the body's systems.
Acute on Chronic Renal Failure
This rare type combines the two main types when a person with chronic kidney disease experiences an acute decline in kidney function. Typical causes include infections, like urinary tract infections (UTIs), or drugs, such as diuretics, which can cause too much water loss.
Detection and Treatment
Blood tests and urine tests are typically used to diagnose kidney failure. ARF patients are often already in the hospital for related conditions so doctors can quickly treat the cause of kidney failure. Chronic kidney failure may take longer to detect. This may result in more severe cases, which could require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
To reduce the risk of kidney failure, patients should monitor their fluids, keep a good balance of electrolytes and check all medications to ensure they don't negatively affect kidney function. Failure to urinate for 24 hours may be indicate a serious problem.