What is kidney failure?

The kidneys acts as a filtration system in our bodies. The main function of the kidneys is to filter the blood to get rid of toxins and waste products. It eliminates unwanted substances through urination. When the kidneys can no longer filter the blood as effectively a person may be diagnosed with kidney failure and when left untreated may lead to numerous complications and even death.

Symptoms of acute kidney failure

Acute kidney failure means the filtration system within the kidney stopped suddenly, usually within hours or days. This condition is easily reversable and with intervention, the kidneys recover and regain their function. Acute kidney injury does not present with any symptoms in some cases. You might only find out from abnormal laboratory test conducted.

  • Reduced urine output
  • Swollen legs, ankles, and feet
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

Symptoms of chronic kidney failure

Chronic kidney failure occurs when there is a progressive and persistent deterioration in renal function. The problem starts lightly, develops slowly, and may even reach the point where you require renal replacement therapy like dialysis or transplantation. Signs and symptoms only show after renal function dropped to 20%.

  • Abnormal blood and urine test
  • Swelling in the face, hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Itching

People with these symptoms should seek medical help immediately!

Seek help immediately to receive treatment and do not wait it out to see if you will feel better.

FAQs on kidney failure

Kidney failure from chronic kidney disease develop slowly. To determine CKD stage, doctors often rely on the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). This is a value that represents how well the kidneys are functioning. eGFR considers the following: your gender, ethnic background, age and creatinine level results.

Stage 1 Kidney failure

  • Good kidney function
  • eGFR score of ≥90
  • Still manifest some signs of kidney damage

Stage 2 Kidney failure

  • eGFR score between 60 to 89 AND some indication of kidney problem, like protein in the urine or physical injury
  • Non-specific symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping

NOTE: under normal circumstances eGFR between 60 and 89 indicates that your kidneys are healthy and functioning well.

Stage 3 Kidney failure

  • Shows a further decline in kidney function
  • eGFR score ranges from 30 to 59
  • Some damage to the kidneys and they are not functioning as well as they should
  • STAGE 3a – eGFR score between 45 – 59
  • STAGE 3b – eGFR score between 30 – 44

Stage 4 Kidney failure

  • Moderate to severe kidney damage
  • Critical
  • Complications may arise from waste building up in your body

Stage 5 Kidney failure

  • eGFR < 15
  • This is an indication that either the kidney is very close to failing or have already failed
  • Waste and toxins are building up intensely and you will feel ill

NOTE: Complete kidney failure does not occur until stage 5, referred to as end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

  • Quit smoking
  • Healthy diet
  • Dialysis
  • Prescribed medication
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems or stroke
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • 60+ years old