Our kidneys help filter wastes and excess fluid from the blood, regulate electrolytes and aid in the performance of vitamin D. Renal impairment is considered to be when the kidneys cannot operate at 50 percent capacity. There are two types of renal impairment: acute renal impairment and chronic renal impairment.
Acute renal impairment is when the kidneys suddenly stop functioning properly. This may be within days or even hours. Acute renal impairment causes related to conditions that impede blood flow to the kidneys may include infection, dehydration, liver failure, heart failure, serious burns and blood or fluid loss. Certain medications may also affect blood flow to the kidneys. Acute renal impairment causes related to blockages could include an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, nerve damage in the bladder, blood clots within the urinary tract and bladder, cervical, colon or prostate cancer.
Chronic renal impairment is the gradual loss of kidney function and causes may include type one or two diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation within the kidney, a back-up of urine in the kidney, recurrent kidney infections and prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract caused by an enlarged prostate, kidney stones and certain cancers.
Chronic renal impairment can be just as dangerous as acute renal impairment. In the earlier stages of chronic renal impairment, few symptoms may be apparent and if they are apparent, they could easily be attributed to another issue or condition. This often leads to delayed diagnosis until chronic renal impairment has reached irreversible, end-stage renal failure, which may be fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Early signs of renal impairment may include physical and mental fatigue, high blood pressure, insomnia, back pain, muscle twitches, itching, fever, rash and nosebleeds. As renal impairment progresses to advanced stages, symptoms may manifest as decreased urination, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, decreased urination, swelling of legs, ankles and feet, chest pain as fluids begin to build up around the heart, shortness of breath as fluid builds up in lungs, yellow skin tone; and even further progression of renal impairment may showcase symptoms including hypertension and heart failure due to the body’s inability to sufficiently rid itself of excess fluids.
Complications of renal impairment may include anemia; pregnancy risks to both mother and child; decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction and reduced fertility; immune system damage resulting in increased vulnerability to infection; fluid retention to the point of swollen extremities, fluid in the lungs or high blood pressure; out of balance fluids and electrolytes which may cause heart rhythm issues, muscle weakness or paralysis; acidic blood causing nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath or drowsiness; inflammation around the heart; heart disease, cardiovascular disease; a sudden rise in potassium within the blood which can affect heart function and may result in death; central nervous system damage which can affect mental ability, alter personality and cause seizures; irreversible damage to the kidneys; plus there may be direct damage to the kidneys caused by things such a blood clots, cholesterol deposits, medications including NSAIDs, antibiotics and chemotherapy, and inflamed kidney filters which can be a result of infection, disease, toxins and certain medications.
To diagnose your renal impairment, you will want to discuss your family history, urinary habits and medications with your doctor, as well as submit to a physical examination. Your physician will run blood tests to check for levels of wastes (including creatinine and urea nitrogen) and fluid balancers (such as potassium and serum sodium) within your blood. Your urine will also be tested for output and in an attempt to detect any abnormalities in proteins and electrolytes. An ultrasound and possibly even a biopsy may also be required to take a closer look at the kidneys.
Some of the factors which could increase your risk of renal impairment are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, smoking and obesity. Plus, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and the elderly are all at increased risk of developing renal impairment.
There are things you can do to minimize your risk of acquiring renal impairment. First off, don’t smoke, as smoking can damage kidneys or worsen existing renal impairment. Do not abuse pain relievers including aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Failing to follow recommended dosage could lead to renal impairment. Try not to put on too many pounds, as obesity can lead to renal impairment issues as well. Also, if you have a condition that could increase your risk of renal impairment, it is a good idea to work with a physician to effectively manage that condition.
Physicians can also treat the causes for renal impairment. In earlier stages of renal impairment, blood pressure, cholesterol and anemia medicines may be prescribed. Low protein diets are used to minimize wastes with the blood and low salt diets may be utilized to promote waste removal. Treatments for end-stage renal impairment are dialysis – for aid in filtering wastes when the kidneys are no longer able to perform this function – or a kidney transplant. Potential future treatments may include regenerative medicines for the purpose of healing damaged cells, tissue and organs.
Riverside Clinical Research is currently conducting a renal impairment study. If you are interested in taking part as a volunteer, please call 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can also acquire more information by emailing email@example.com or accessing the patient portal at riversideclinicalresearch.com.
- Riverside Clinical Research volunteers are compensated, no health insurance is required and, as a clinical research volunteer, you may benefit from the use of medications or treatments before they are available to the general public. Riverside Clinical Research is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in Edgewater, Florida.