What Is Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)?
You may have already heard of acute kidney failure. This condition is also called acute kidney injury (AKI), or it could be called acute renal failure (ARF).
The terms are used to describe a sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or a few days.
This results in a build-up of waste products in your blood, and your kidneys will find it difficult to keep the right balance of fluid in your body.
AKI will sometimes affect other organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs.
It is common for patients who are in the hospital and in intensive care units to develop acute kidney failure, especially if they are older adults.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of AKI?
Signs and symptoms of acute kidney injury vary according to the cause.
They may include:
- Great reduction in urine leaving the body
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and around the eyes
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Seizures or coma in severe cases
- Chest pain or pressure
Sometimes, there are no symptoms present with the onset of AKI. In these cases, the urologists at Urology of Greater Atlanta will perform other tests to identify the condition.
What Causes Acute Kidney Injury?
Acute kidney injury can have many different causes.
AKI can be caused by the following:
Decreased Blood Flow
Some diseases and conditions can slow blood flow to your kidneys and cause AKI.
These diseases and conditions include low blood pressure, heart failure, or overuse of pain medicines, such as ibuprofen.
Direct Damage to the Kidneys
Some diseases and conditions can damage your kidneys and lead to AKI.
Some examples include:
- Vasculitis, a rare condition that causes inflammation and scarring to your blood vessels, making them stiff, weak, and narrow.
- Interstitial nephritis, which is an allergic reaction to certain types of drugs.
- Kidney diseases, such as acute glomerulonephritis, that cause inflammation or damage to the kidney tubules, the small blood vessels in the kidneys, or the filtering units in the kidneys.
Blockage of the Urinary Tract
In some people, conditions or diseases can block the passage of urine out of the body and can lead to AKI.
Blockage can be caused by:
- Prostate, bladder, or cervical cancer
- Enlarged prostate
- Blood clots in the urinary tract
How Do You Assess Acute Kidney Injury?
Getting assessed quickly for AKI is important because it can lead to chronic kidney disease or even kidney failure.
The following tests may be used to identify AKI:
- Measuring urine output: How much urine you pass each day will be tracked to help find the cause of your AKI.
- Urine tests: Urinalysis is used to find signs of kidney failure.
- Blood tests: Blood tests can detect levels of creatinine, urea nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in order to determine kidney function.
- Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR): Your blood test will show your GFR in order to estimate the decrease in kidney function.
- Imaging tests: Your provider will be able to look for abnormalities with ultrasound.
- Kidney biopsy: Your doctor may remove a tiny piece of your kidney to be examined under a microscope.
What Is the Treatment for Acute Kidney Injury?
A hospital stay is usually required to treat AKI. Depending on the seriousness of the case, dialysis may be necessary to help replace kidney function until your kidneys recover.
Treatment for acute kidney injury is to treat the cause. Your provider will continue to treat all of your symptoms and complications until your kidneys recover.
After having AKI, you have a greater risk of developing other health problems such as kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, or having AKI again in the future.
The chances of developing end-stage renal disease and permanent kidney damage increase every time AKI occurs. It’s important that you continue tracking your kidney function and recovery.
You can count on state-of-the-art diagnostics and innovative treatments from the team at Urology of Greater Atlanta. If you have any signs of urinary abnormalities, such as blood or protein in the urine, call the office or make an appointment online today for expert care.