When you have kidney failure, one or both kidneys aren't able to work normally. The kidneys remove waste (in the form of urine) from the body. They also balance the water and electrolyte content in the blood by filtering salt and water.
Kidney failure is divided into two categories:
Kidney disease causes the tiny filters in the kidneys (called nephrons) to lose their ability to filter. Damage to the nephrons may occur suddenly after an injury or poisoning. But, many kidney diseases take years or even decades to cause damage that is noticeable.
The two most commons causes of kidney disease are:
- Diabetes—high blood sugar can damage nephrons
- High blood pressure—severe high blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys
Others causes include:
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Birth defects
- Bilateral renal artery stenosis
- Severe trauma
- Viral infections (such as, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS)
- Long-term use of medicines that contain aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen
- Abnormal build-up of substances within the kidneys (such as, amyloidosis, protein build-up)
- Toxic reaction to drugs or x-ray dyes
- Systemic diseases (such as, lupus, polyarteritis, Wegeners granulomatosis
- Conditions that severely decrease the amount of blood (such as, burns, pancreatitis, peritonitis)
- Conditions that make it difficult to urinate (such as, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, tumors)
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Last reviewedOctober 2012by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.