Causes Of Kidney Failure And Problems That Occur When Kidney Stops Working
Does kidney failure occur suddenly? The answer is no.
But the problem is kidney patients can lose up to 90% of their kidney function even before the symptoms start appearing. Most of the time, gradual loss of kidney function caused by undetected CKD (chronic kidney disease) leads to kidney failure. Kidney failure is also known as ESRD (end-stage renal disease), is the final and severe stage of CKD.
When kidney shutdown occurs, your kidneys fail to perform vital functions such as removal of waste products, controlling blood pressure, and producing enough erythropoietin (essential for the bone marrow to make red blood cells).
Read more to know about why kidney shutdown occurs, what are the problems faced by kidney patients when the kidney stops working and causes of kidney failure.
Primary Causes Of Kidney Failure:
Diabetes, the leading cause for kidney failure: Diabetes accounts for around 44% of kidney failure cases. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. Your kidneys cannot filter the blood properly due to damaged blood vessels.
Diabetes can also cause problems with emptying the bladder. Many people with diabetes also suffer from high blood pressure, which can also damage kidneys. Research suggests that diabetic patients should keep their blood pressure at less than 130/80 in order to avoid kidney complications.
High blood pressure: High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. Uncontrolled blood pressure can narrow or harden the blood vessels around the kidneys. These damaged vessels fail to deliver sufficient blood to the kidney tissue. If more blood vessels become damaged and stop functioning, it eventually leads to kidney shutdown.
Nephrotic syndrome: Nephrotic syndrome occurs when conditions that damage the filtering units in the kidney present, such as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis or diabetes. In nephrotic syndrome, proteins leak in large amounts into urine and cause swelling in the legs.
Some of the diseases causing nephrotic syndrome can be treated. When the disease-causing nephrotic syndrome is not managed, it can lead to kidney failure.
Polycystic kidney disease: It is a genetic disease in which cysts grow in the kidneys. These cysts are sacs filled with fluids. If these cysts become too big or many cysts grow in kidneys, kidney tissues become damaged and lead to kidney impairment.
Autoimmune diseases: An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy parts of the body. Examples of autoimmune disorders that cause kidney failure are lupus, IgA nephropathy and Goodpasture’s syndrome.
In these disorders, the antibodies produced by the immune system attacks the kidneys, causes inflammation, impairs kidney function which may lead to kidney failure.
Urinary tract problems: The problems such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, prostate disorders can lead to kidney failure if the problem is not corrected.
Heart attack and drug abuse: Heart attack and illegal drug use can suddenly stop kidney function within two days. It is called acute renal failure. Treatment may reverse this condition in the absence of other diseases. After analyzing the causes of kidney failure physicians will recommend an appropriate treatment option and medications for kidney failure.
Challenges Faced By Kidney Patients When Kidney Stops Working:
Mental health challenges:
a. Don’t let your stress worsen your kidney impairment: Being diagnosed with kidney failure or undergoing treatment can be mentally challenging. Eating restrictions, fearing about dialysis or transplant, financial planning for treatment, lack of proper sleep, and time management for treatment while working can affect your mental health.
It’s common to feel overwhelmed to cope up with the lifestyle changes that occur due to kidney impairment. It can influence your physical health significantly, so seek help from a mental health counselor to overcome this mental condition.
b. Eating restrictions: Kidneys keep the proper balance of minerals and nutrients in the body. In kidney impairment, it can be challenging for kidneys to do this job. You may lose interest in eating, or foods may taste different when you have kidney damage. Dietitians can tell you the best food choices to eat when you have kidney failure.
c. Lack of restful sleep: Sleeping difficulties may occur in kidney failure. Sleep loss can interfere with day-to-day activities, mood and energy levels. Physical activity, reduced use of electronic gadgets before bedtime, and warm baths can help with sleep problems.
d. Managing job with kidney failure: Working full time can become a challenge while you are undergoing treatment for kidney failure. This might increase your mental stress which in turn affects your mental health. You can switch to part-time roles or flexible schedules. Talk freely with your employer about the changes you need to work.
You may ask your doctor or health care team to talk with your employer about your health concerns. Minimize the physically demanding jobs. Most employers will make adjustments for kidney patients. Employers will get tax credits for making some changes for you.
Physical Health Challenges:
a. High potassium levels can be dangerous: High potassium is more common in kidney failure. High potassium levels can cause irregular heartbeats, and in some worst cases, it can even lead to a heart attack. Your physician may prescribe medicines called potassium binders to control potassium levels.
b. Anaemia: Anaemia is a condition characterized by a lack of healthy red blood cells. In kidney impairment, the kidneys fail to make enough erythropoietin, a hormone helpful in making red blood cells.
c. Bone disease: Balance in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D keeps the bone healthy and strong. Loss of kidney function causes improper balance of minerals in the body. Kidney failure lowers the absorption of calcium in the body.
High phosphorus levels in the blood pull out the calcium from the bones and make them weak. Changes in the eating plan and treatment will help to regain bone health.
d. Heart diseases: Kidneys and the heart work closely together. The problem in one organ can cause a problem in another organ. In the loss of kidney function, the blood pressure rises. The heart has to pump harder when this happens which can cause heart disorders.
Keeping blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control will help prevent heart problems.
e. Fluid build-up: Normally, kidneys remove excess fluids from the body. In kidney impairment, the excess fluid build-up in the body. Too much fluids can cause problems with the lungs and heart.
The Bottom Note:
Be aware and keep yourself away from kidney failure by managing your diabetes and blood pressure. If kidney failure happens, we need a kidney transplant or dialysis to live. Physicians and dietitians will help choose the right treatment and diet for kidney failure, respectively.