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Acute Renal Failure is a rapid condition (almost less than 2 days) when the kidneys fail in their ability to filter/remove waste from the blood and in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.

Acute Kidney Injury

Some kidney problems happen quickly, such as when an accident injures the kidneys. Losing a lot of blood can cause sudden kidney failure. Some drugs or poisons can make the kidneys stop working. These sudden drops in kidney function are called Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). Some doctors may also refer to this condition as Acute Renal Failure (ARF). AKI may lead to permanent loss of kidney function. But if the kidneys are not seriously damaged, acute kidney disease may be reversed.


There are times when lab tests are required to detect acute renal failure for lack of signs and symptoms.

However, the following signs and symptoms are not hard to miss -

  • Irregular urine output - excessive to little/no urine at times
  • Bad breath and a weird taste of metal in the mouth
  • Frequent mood swings and confusion
  • Hiccups, Seizures, hand tremor or coma in severe cases
  • Poor appetite
  • Tiredness and drowsiness
  • Fluid retention and decreased sensation in the limbs
  • Chest pain and flank pain (between the ribs and the hips)
  • High blood pressure and shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting that may run for days
  • Nose-bleeding besides bruising easily
  • Trace of blood in the stool

Risk Factors

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes, that is not under check and control
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Morbid obesity
  • Advanced age
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Hospitalised in the ICU for a serious medical condition


Your doctor may recommend the following tests and procedures:

  • Urinalysis - Testing a sample of your urine to check abnormalities
  • Blood tests - to check increasing levels of urea and creatinine - two substances used to measure kidney function.
  • Imaging tests - Ultrasound and computerized tomography may be performed.
  • Kidney Biopsy - a sample of kidney tissue is taken and sent to the laboratory for further investigation


Treatment usually entails staying in the hospital to monitor kidney function depending on what's causing the failure. Doctors will try to prevent complications and give time to the kidneys to heal through the following steps:

  • Balance the amount of fluids in your blood with intravenous (IV) fluids or diuretics to expel extra fluids.
  • Medications to control blood potassium levels to avoid irregular heartbeats and muscle weakness.
  • Medications to restore blood calcium levels
  • Dialysis to remove toxins and excess fluids from your blood.
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