What is Kidney Failure In Chronic Kidney Disease?

Healthy kidneys remove waste products and extra water from your body, help make red blood cells, maintain electrolytes and help control blood pressure. When you have kidney failure, it means your kidneys are damaged. Kidney failure means that your kidneys don’t work well enough to keep you alive. There is no cure for kidney failure, but with treatment, it is possible to live a long life. High blood pressure and diabetes are the two most common causes of kidney failure.

Kidney failure does not happen overnight. It is the end result of a gradual loss of kidney function. In fact, some people do not even know they have kidney disease until their kidneys fail. Why not? Because people with early kidney disease may not have any symptoms. Symptoms usually show up late in the progression of the disease.

Healthy kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from your blood. But when your kidneys fail, wastes and extra fluid can build up in your blood and make you feel sick. You may have some of the following symptoms :

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • trouble sleeping
  • poor appetite
  • weakness
  • tiredness
  • itching
  • weight loss
  • muscle cramps (especially in the legs)
  • swelling of your feet or ankles
  • anemia (a low blood count)
  • trouble sleeping
  • decreased urine output
  • feel confused/ have trouble focusing

What are health problems in patients with renal failure?

  1. High blood pressure

High blood pressure can be both a cause and a result of kidney disease. High blood pressure damages your kidneys, and damaged kidneys don’t work well enough to help control your blood pressure. With kidney failure, your kidneys can’t get rid of extra water. Avoid taking too much water, limiting sodium and fluids in your diet, staying physically active, managing stress, and quitting smoking can help you control your blood pressure.

2. Heart disease

People with kidney disease are at high risk for heart disease, and people with heart disease are at high risk for kidney disease. The steps you take to manage your kidney disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose will also help you prevent heart diseases.

3.  Anemia

When kidneys are damaged, they don’t make enough erythropoietin, a hormone that helps make red blood cells. Anemia can make you feel weak and lack energy.

4. Mineral bone disorder

Healthy kidneys balance calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and produce hormones that help keep bones strong. As kidney function drops, one may become thin and weak. You may feel bone or joint pain. Changes to your eating plan, medicines, supplements, and dialysis may help.

5. Itching

Itching may be because of dry skin. Using a moisturizer may help. Too much phosphorus in your blood can also cause itching. Eating less phosphorus may help stop the itching.


Once you begin treatment for kidney failure, your symptoms will improve and you will begin to feel much better. There are two treatments for kidney failure — dialysis and kidney transplant. The dialysis treatment or transplanted kidney will take over some of the work of your damaged kidneys and remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. It also helps in maintaining electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus in your blood, acid-base balance, and helps in the regulation of blood pressure.  

In chronic or end stage kidney failure, your kidneys do not get better and you will need dialysis for the rest of your life. But in some cases of acute kidney failure, dialysis may only be needed for a short time until the kidneys get better. There are two types of dialysis – haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

What is haemodialysis?

Haemodialysis is a procedure where a dialysis machine and a special filter called an artificial kidney, or a dialyzer, are used to clean your blood. Usually, an AV fistula in arm or a plastic tube called ‘catheter’ is used to get access to blood. The dialyzer, or filter, has two parts, one for your blood and one for a washing fluid called dialysate. A thin membrane separates these two parts.  Smaller waste products in the blood, such as urea, creatinine, potassium, and extra fluid pass through the membrane and are washed away.

Haemodialysis is usually done three times per week for about 4 hours at a time. Getting the right amount of dialysis improves your overall health, keeps you out of the hospital, and enables you to live longer. Studies show that remaining kidney function contributes to better outcomes in dialysis patients.

The following steps will help to maintain remaining kidney function :

  • Take blood pressure medicines as instructed by your doctor if you have high blood pressure. Studies show that some blood pressure medicines can help protect any remaining kidney function you may have.
  • Avoid medicines that can harm your kidneys, such as pain-relieving medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  •  Diuretics (water pills) to help remove salt and water from your blood.
  • Make sure conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are well controlled
  • Fluid and salt restriction. Patients on dialysis are advised to increase their protein intake and limit the amount of potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and fluid in their diet.