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What Is Renal Failure?

Renal failure is a very, very serious kidney disorder. It can be triggered by a number of conditions, and may be temporary or progressive. Fortunately, there are many possible treatments.

The kidney—found near the abdomen and the pelvis—are responsible for removing waste and excess water from the blood. The kidney, in fact, produces the urine. By purging the body of toxins, the kidney helps maintain the appropriate balance of fluid and salt compounds (called electrolytes).

During renal failure, the kidney performance is lowered; it is not able to remove waste or produce urine. The fluid balance is affected, and toxins accumulate. This can cause other organs to malfunction. Untreated renal failure can lead to complications in the brain and heart. Eventually, it can even lead to death.

Acute renal failure happens quite suddenly, and is caused by other conditions. For example, an infection or serious dehydration can cause the kidney to malfunction. Or, the kidney can be injured in an accident. Sometimes, overuse of over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (ex. Tylenol and Advil) may affect the kidney. Fortunately, once those conditions are successfully treated, the kidney can be expected to return to normal.

Chronic renal failure, on the other hand, tends to be more serious. That’s because symptoms (edema, or swelling; exhaustion; headaches) are much more subtle and are easily missed, and the condition is only discovered in the later stages. Diabetes and high blood pressure can trigger chronic renal failure. The more advanced cases may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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