Acute renal failure (ARF), or acute kidney failure, occurs when the kidneys are not able to remove waste from the blood. ARF develops quickly, within a few hours or days. It most often happens to people already in the hospital especially those who are seriously ill. Other risk factors include being older, having diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease or blockages in the blood vessels in your arms or legs (peripheral artery disease).
Common symptoms of ARF may include decreased urination, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, confusion, or feeling tired or lacking energy. Swelling may occur as a result of the body retaining water and may be visible in the legs, ankles, or feet. Chest pain or pressure may occur. In severe cases, seizures or a coma may result from ARF. Sometimes there are no signs or symptoms.
ARF may be diagnosed by measuring urine output, performing urine and blood tests as well as ultrasounds or CT scans of the kidney. Sometimes a kidney biopsy will be performed in which a doctor removes a small piece of kidney tissue using a small thin needle so the tissue can be tested. ARF is a serious illness which may be fatal but many people are able to recover fully with intensive medical care. Treatment and recovery depends on the underlying cause of the kidney failure, but may include diet and liquid restrictions, medication, and short term dialysis. Dialysis is a process in which your blood is filtered through a machine that removes waste so that your blood can then be returned to your body. It is used when kidney damage is severe. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with acute renal failure, talk to your physician and specialists about the most current treatment options.