Acute Kidney Injury


Acute kidney injury is a term used to describe kidney failure or damage that comes on very suddenly, often within a period of hours. It results in a build-up of waste products in the blood, and can therefore be life threatening. This condition most often occurs among patients who are already hospitalized, particularly those in intensive care units, but may also develop in the outpatient setting.


Causes of Acute Kidney Injury


Decreased blood flow to the kidneys may result in acute kidney injury, as can heart disease, severe diarrhea, and internal bleeding. The overuse of pain medications known as NSAIDS is thought to contribute to it as well. Other conditions that may cause acute kidney injury include cancer, schleroderma, vasculitis, and sepsis.

Signs and Symptoms


An immediate sign of acute kidney injury involves too little urine leaving the body. This is typically accompanied by swelling in the legs and ankles, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and chest pain. More severe cases can produce seizures or coma. Acute kidney injury must be treated promptly, so you should seek medical attention immediately as soon as you notice signs.


Treating Acute Kidney Injury


Treating acute kidney injury requires determining the cause of it, which is why one of several tests may be needed. You may be given intravenous fluids to flush out your kidneys or diuretics to help you expel them. You could also require medication to regulate the amount of potassium and calcium in your blood, and might need to temporarily undergo dialysis until your kidney function returns to normal.