Acute Kidney Injury

What is acute kidney injury?

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is sudden failure of the kidney or rapid damage that takes place over a very short period of time. AKI causes a build-up of waste in your blood and makes it hard for your kidneys to keep the right balance of fluid. AKI can also affect other organs such as the brain, heart and lungs. Acute kidney injury is found in patients who are in the hospital or in intensive care units and also those who are senior citizens.

What are the signs and symptoms of acute kidney injury?

Common symptoms of acute kidney injury are:

  • Too little urine
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles and around the eyes
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Seizures or coma in severe cases
  • Chest pain or pressure

In some cases, AKI is not physically apparent and can only be revealed through tests done by a medical expert.

Treatment

Treatment for AKI usually requires you to be admitted in a hospital or nursing home. How long you will stay in the hospital depends on the cause of your AKI and how you respond to treatment.
In more serious cases, dialysis may be needed to help replace kidney function until your kidneys recover. The main goal will be to treat what is causing the acute kidney injury. Your healthcare provider will work to treat all your symptoms and complications until your kidneys are fully healed.

After AKI, you have higher chances of developing other health problems (such as kidney disease, stroke, heart disease) or a relapse of AKI in the future. The chances for developing kidney disease and kidney failure increase every time AKI occurs. To protect yourself, you should follow up with your doctor to keep track of your kidney function and recovery. The best ways to prevent kidney damage and save kidney function are to find and treat AKI as early as possible.