Renal Failure: Risks, Treatments, and Prevention

Renal Failure: Risks, Treatments, and Prevention

11:15 30 January in Health, Medicine

Here’s what you need to know about advanced kidney disease, which affects millions of people each year.

Renal failure is the fifth and most severe stage of chronic kidney disease. It occurs when the kidneys can only function at 10-15% of their normal rate, which is no longer enough to maintain optimal health.

Each year, about 2 million people around the world suffer from kidney failure, also known as renal failure. The countries with the highest incidence rates of renal failure are Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, the United States, and Belgium.

Renal failure is a serious and potentially fatal condition, but with proper medical interventions, patients can regain kidney function. Learn about the risks for kidney disease and how the condition can be managed.

What Functions Do the Kidneys Serve?

The primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate toxins and filter waste from the blood. Kidneys also regulate blood pressure, create red blood cells, and provide nutrients to bones.

When kidneys don’t function properly, toxins and waste will accumulate in the blood. The heart will need to work harder, which raises blood pressure. Without treatment, chronic kidney disease can develop and lead to sickness and possibly death.

How is Renal Failure Treated?

Renal failure is treated in two ways: transplantation and dialysis. Kidney transplants can be accepted from either a live or a deceased donor, and the five-year survival rate for kidney transplant recipients is more than 80%. The kidney is the most commonly transplanted organ; according to World Kidney Day, about 85,000 kidneys are transplanted around the world each year.

Dialysis, the other treatment for kidney failure, cleans toxins from the blood, removes excess fluids, and regulates blood pressure when the kidneys aren’t strong enough to do so. Some patients can undergo dialysis at home, while others will need to go to a clinic or hospital for treatment. There are two main types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. With hemodialysis, a filtering machine removes blood from the body, filters the waste and excess fluids, and then returns the filtered blood back to the body. Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood within the body, using a surgically placed tube inside the abdomen.

What Are the Symptoms of Renal Failure?

Renal failure may cause extreme fatigue, nausea, weakness, and confusion. Someone in kidney failure might have a decrease in their urine output or experience swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet, due to fluid retention. Severe cases may cause seizures or a coma.

What Are the Risk Factors for Kidney Disease?

Some of the most common risk factors for kidney disease include:

•           Diabetes

•           High blood pressure

•           Heart disease

•           Obesity

•           Being 60 or older

•           Being Black, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, or First Nation

•           Family history of kidney failure

Sometimes, kidney disease does not cause any symptoms in its early stages. If you have an increased risk for kidney disease, ask your healthcare provider about your kidney health and whether you should be tested.

How Can I Maintain Good Kidney Health?

To maintain good kidney health, focus on a healthy diet. Foods that are good for your heart are also good for your kidneys, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When you cook, choose baking and broiling over frying, and instead of salt, try to use a variety of other spices.

Other lifestyle changes that can improve kidney health include not smoking, managing stress, and maintaining good blood pressure. Also, limiting alcohol can improve kidney function as well; as a general rule, women should have no more than one drink each day and men should have no more than two.

Finally, as with almost all conditions, improving mobility by incorporating appropriate exercise in your daily routine can improve health outcomes.