Acute kidney failure occurs when your kidneys suddenly become unable to filter waste products from your blood. When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, dangerous levels of wastes may accumulate, and your blood\'s chemical makeup may get out of balance.
Signs and symptoms of acute kidney failure may include:
• Decreased urine output, although occasionally urine output remains normal
• Fluid retention, causing swelling in your legs, ankles or feet
• Shortness of breath
• Seizures or coma in severe cases
• Chest pain or pressure
Sometimes acute kidney failure causes no signs or symptoms and is detected through lab tests done for another reason.
If your signs and symptoms suggest that you have acute kidney failure, doctor may recommend certain tests and procedures to verify your diagnosis. These may include:
• Urine output measurements. The amount of urine you excrete in a day may help your doctor determine the cause of your kidney failure.
• Urine tests. Analyzing a sample of your urine, a procedure called urinalysis, may reveal abnormalities that suggest kidney failure.
• Blood tests. A sample of your blood may reveal rapidly rising levels of urea and creatinine — two substances used to measure kidney function.
• Imaging tests. Imaging tests such as ultrasound and computerized tomography may be used to help your doctor see your kidneys.
• Removing a sample of kidney tissue for testing. In some situations, your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to remove a small sample of kidney tissue for lab testing. Your doctor inserts a needle through your skin and into your kidney to remove the sample.
Treating the underlying cause of your kidney failure
Treatment for acute kidney failure involves identifying the illness or injury that originally damaged your kidneys. Your treatment options depend on what's causing your kidney failure.
Treating complications until your kidneys recover
Your doctor will also work to prevent complications and allow your kidneys time to heal.
Treatments that help prevent complications include:
• Treatments to balance the amount of fluids in your blood. If your acute kidney failure is caused by a lack of fluids in your blood, your doctor may recommend intravenous (IV) fluids.
• Medications to control blood potassium. If your kidneys aren't properly filtering potassium from your blood, your doctor may prescribe calcium, glucose or sodium polystyrene sulfonate to prevent the accumulation of high levels of potassium in your blood. Too much potassium in the blood can cause dangerous irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and muscle weakness.
• Medications to restore blood calcium levels. If the levels of calcium in your blood drop too low, your doctor may recommend an infusion of calcium.
• Dialysis to remove toxins from your blood. If toxins build up in your blood, you may need temporary hemodialysis — often referred to simply as dialysis — to help remove toxins and excess fluids from your body while your kidneys heal