Your kidneys serve an invaluable function in the human body. These organs filter your blood, a vital component that maintains equilibrium in your body. Without working kidneys, your blood essentially becomes contaminated.
After this, you won’t be able to survive without either regular dialysis treatments or a complete kidney transplant. Being that the kidneys are integral to your health, receiving news that you have chronic kidney disease or even renal failure can be devastating.
To make matters worse, there is a condition where extensive kidney damage and even kidney failure can happen suddenly. This is called acute kidney injury (AKI). Below, you’ll learn about this condition and how you can successfully cope.
What is Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)
AKI is a condition, in which your kidneys become suddenly damaged over the span of a few hours or days. In extreme cases, your kidneys may fail during this episode. AKI results in the massive build-up of waste in your blood.
This makes your kidneys go into overdrive, where they still have trouble balancing the fluids in your body. In addition, AKI can negatively affect other vital organs in your body, such as the lungs, heart, and brain. AKI is common in older adults, people in the hospital, and in intensive care units.
What are the Symptoms of Acute Kidney Injury?
It can be difficult self-diagnosing acute kidney injury. In fact, it requires a professional medical diagnosis. Symptoms and signs of the condition can vary depending on the cause, but are not limited to:
- Increased chest pressure or pain
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in feet, ankles, and eyes
Unfortunately, even with a medical diagnosis, extensive tests have to be performed to uncover the condition. This is because some cases of acute kidney injury do not exhibit any symptoms at all.
In which case, lab tests will have to be performed by your primary healthcare physician.
What Causes Acute Kidney Injury?
There are many causes of acute kidney injury. Primarily, the following conditions can lead to the development of the condition.
Decreased Blood Flow:
Many health conditions and diseases can decrease your blood flow, leading to the development of acute kidney injury. These diseases and health conditions include:
- Low blood pressure
- Major surgery
- Major injury
- Severe burns
- Organ failure
- Heart failure, heart attack, etc
- Blood or fluid loss
- Allergic reactions
Decreased blood flow can damage the kidneys, causing an eventual malfunction.
Massive Damage to the Kidneys:
Another cause of acute kidney injury is massive kidney damage. In this case, the kidneys will begin to shut down. Massive damage to the kidneys include:
- Multiple myeloma, a rare cancer that can affect the kidneys
- A dangerous allergic reaction called interstitial nephritis
- Diseases that can damage connective tissue vital to optimal organ performance, such as scleroderma
As you can see, it’s somewhat rare for healthy individuals to suddenly suffer from acute kidney injury. People who have been in the hospital for pre-existing conditions are much more likely to develop the disease.
Urinary Tract Blockage:
The kidneys play an essential role in filtering waste from your blood and expelling this waste out of your body. When certain conditions or diseases can inhibit the expulsion of urine out of the body, it can result in the development of AKI.
This type of blockage can be caused by:
- An Enlarged prostate
- Blood clots present in the urinary tract
- Cervical, prostate, or bladder problems
Eventually, urinary tract blockage can result in build-up, further damaging the kidneys. If you are experiencing any urination tract issues, you should speak to your physician immediately for assistance.
What Tests are Performed to Diagnose AKI?
Depending on what’s causing your AKI, your physician will conduct several tests if they have any suspicions. It’s very important that this condition is uncovered immediately, as it can soon lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.
It can also result in heart disease and even death. For this reason, you should prioritize getting the treatment you need if your physician suspects you have developed AKI. The following tests may be performed to diagnose AKI and the extent of its damage.
- Urine Output Measuring – Your doctor may measure the amount of urine you pass every day to get down to the bottom of your condition.
- Urine Tests – Your doctor may conduct a urine test to find signs of kidney damage or failure. Normally, if a high concentration of protein is found in your urine, it’s a definite sign that your kidneys aren’t working properly.
- Blood Tests – Your doctor may conduct a blood test to find traces of potassium, creatinine, and urea nitrogen phosphorus. By observing your blood, your doctor may understand the cause of your AKI.
- Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) – A blood test will also gauge your GFR, an essential measurement in determining the damage of your kidneys.
- Imaging Tests – An ultrasound may be performed to search for visible kidney damage. If the damage is massive, this may be the most effective means of diagnosis.
- Kidney Biopsy – In some cases, your doctor will insert a special needle into your body to extract a small portion of your kidney. This specimen is then observed under a microscope for more data and a more specific diagnosis.
There are so many tests a doctor has at his or her disposal to truly diagnose AKI. Depending on the severity of your condition, the administration of any of these tests can vary.
What are Possible Treatments for AKI?
Basically, you will be required to stay in the hospital until your kidneys gradually recover. Most people living with AKI are already in the hospital for other reasons. The time you spend in the hospital can depend on the cause of your condition and how quickly you can recover.
Your doctor will treat all of your symptoms until you fully recover. After which, you’ll be responsible for following up with them to constantly monitor the performance of your kidneys.
Speak With a Specialist Today!
Are you concerned about the health of your kidneys? If so, give us a call at (210) 212-8622 to speak to a member of our team about scheduling an appointment with one of our renowned specialists.