Renal failure refers to temporary or permanent damage to the kidneys that results in loss of normal kidney function. There are two different types of renal failure—acute and chronic. Acute renal failure has an abrupt onset and is potentially reversible.
Conditions that may lead to acute or chronic renal failure may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Decreased blood flow to the kidneys for a period of time. This may occur from blood loss, surgery, or shock.
- An obstruction or blockage along the urinary tract.
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome—usually caused by an E. coli infection, kidney failure develops as a result of obstruction to the small functional structures and vessels inside the kidney.
- Ingestion of certain medications that may cause toxicity to the kidneys.
- Glomerulonephritis—a type of kidney disease that involves glomeruli. During glomerulonephritis, the glomeruli become inflamed and impair the kidney's ability to filter urine.
- Any condition that may impair the flow of oxygen and blood to the kidneys such as cardiac arrest.
What are the symptoms of acute renal failure?
The symptoms for acute and chronic renal failure may be different. The following are the most common symptoms of acute and chronic renal failure. However, each child may experience symptoms differently.
Acute symptoms may include:
(Symptoms of acute renal failure depend largely on the underlying cause.)
- Bloody diarrhea
- Severe vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- No urine output or high urine output
- History of recent infection
- Pale skin
- History of taking certain medications
- History of trauma
- Swelling of the tissues
- Inflammation of the eye
- Detectable abdominal mass
- Exposure to heavy metals or toxic solvents
What is the treatment for acute renal failure?
Specific treatment for renal failure will be determined by your child's physician based on:
- Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- The extent of the disease
- The type of disease (acute or chronic)
- Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
Treatment of acute renal failure depends on the underlying cause. Treatment may include:
- Administration of intravenous (IV) fluids in large volumes (to replace depleted blood volume)
- Diuretic therapy or medications (to increase urine output)
- Close monitoring of important electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and calcium
- Medications (to control blood pressure)
- Specific diet requirements
In some cases, children may develop severe electrolyte disturbances and toxic levels of certain waste products normally eliminated by the kidneys. Children may also develop fluid overload. Dialysis may be indicated in these cases.