Renal Failure: What are the Causes of Renal Failure?

What are the causes of renal failure

What are the Causes of Renal Failure? Renal insufficiency is an often life-threatening functional disorder of the kidneys in which the kidneys no longer detoxify the body adequately or at all. Here you can find out what you can do about it and how you can prevent the disease.

What is Renal Failure?

Healthy kidneys detoxify the body by filtering harmful substances (urinary substances) from the blood. These are then excreted in the urine. With renal insufficiency (also called renal dysfunction or kidney failure ) this function is disturbed. The build-up of toxins in the body can be life threatening. The harmful substances accumulate in the blood, and uremia develops (blood poisoning from substances that are released from urine).

A distinction is made between acute renal failure, which occurs suddenly, and chronic renal failure, which gradually worsens over a long period of time. Without prompt treatment, total kidney failure leads to death. Often, in the course of the disease, premature death occurs despite treatment (in up to 60 percent of cases). In Western Europe, around 1 in 10,000 people have kidney failure. The number is increasing as people get older. Women are currently about 1.5 times more affected than men.

What are the Causes of Renal Failure?

Acute kidney failure is often triggered by impaired blood circulation. This can have various causes such as:

  • Major operations or accidents (high blood loss)
  • Certain drugs
  • Blood poisoning (sepsis)
  • Inflammation of the kidney tissue
  • Infections with bacteria or viruses
  • Disturbed urine outflow

Leading cause of chronic kidney failure is diabetes mellitus (diabetes) . Other causes include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Infection and inflammation
  • Kidney stones and tumors
  • Pain medication abuse

What are the Symptoms of Renal Failure?

The following symptoms, among others, can occur in acute renal insufficiency.

At the start:

  • Fatigue
  • Inefficiency
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Malaise, nausea


  • Little urine output
  • Edema on the extremities, later also in the abdomen and lungs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Restrictions on movement
  • Pains
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

In a chronic renal failure symptoms similar in acute occur. In addition, among other things:

  • Depressions
  • impaired blood clotting
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Brownish yellow skin
  • Severe itching
  • Dark yellow to reddish brown urine
  • Changed blood pressure
  • Taste disorders
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness, coma

How does the Doctor recognize Kidney Failure?

In addition to examining any underlying illnesses (such as diabetes ), the doctor has, among other things, the following options for determining kidney failure:

  • Blood test
  • Examination of kidney values
  • Urinalysis
  • Kidney biopsy
  • 24-hour blood pressure measurement
  • Ultrasound, x-ray

In chronic renal insufficiency, the healthy kidney tissue can take over the tasks of the diseased part for a long time. As a result, the disease is often discovered late.

How is Renal Failure Treated?

Therapy depends on the type and stage of renal insufficiency. In acute kidney failure, the underlying disease is treated in the hospital. By infusions, medication and appropriate diet (protein and phosphate diet, high fluid intake) also the symptoms are treated. A dialysis may be temporarily required.

With more advanced renal insufficiency, life-threatening damage can often only be averted by lifelong dialysis or a kidney transplant (if a donor organ is available).

How can I Prevent kidney Failure?

Renal insufficiency is often caused by other diseases (diabetes). Therefore, contact with the attending physician is of great importance. In addition, the abuse of painkillers should also be avoided – also from a health perspective.

People who are already sick or diagnosed should pay particular attention to their diet and work closely with their doctor (kidney specialist). Since non-prescription drugs are also excreted via the kidneys, the doctor should always be asked for advice on self-medication.

What are the Chances of Recovery From Renal Insufficiency?

If the underlying disease can be successfully treated in the case of acute kidney failure, the prognosis is favorable. Changes in tissue usually recede. If this does not succeed, however, the mortality is very high.

With chronic kidney failure, permanent damage always occurs. If untreated, kidney failure is fatal. Despite therapy, in many cases there is a premature end to life – for example due to organ disorders caused by illness. Even after a kidney transplant, the person affected must take medication for life (to protect against rejection).


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