Acute Kidney Injury

Acute kidney injury, which used to be called acute renal failure, is the sudden decrease in kidney function. When acute kidney injury occurs, the kidneys have trouble removing waste products and excess fluids, which then build up in the body and upset the body's normal chemical balance.

The most common causes of acute kidney injury are dehydration, blood loss from major surgery or injury, or medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, or the dyes (contrast agents) used in X-ray tests.

Symptoms depend on the cause of the problem and can include:

  • Little or no urine output.
  • Dizziness upon standing.
  • Swelling, especially of the legs and feet.
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Feeling confused, anxious and restless, or sleepy.
  • Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back.

The treatment of acute kidney injury includes correcting the cause and supporting the kidneys, sometimes with dialysis, until proper functioning is restored. Most people who develop acute kidney injury are already in the hospital.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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