Acute kidney failure (acute renal failure or acute kidney injury) is a common healthy issue, which occurs when the kidneys get unable to filter residues from the blood. When the kidneys lose the filtering ability, the residue accumulation in the body may have fatal consequences.

There are nearly 2 million nephrons in the kidneys that filter 3 – 4 liters of blood. Therefore, the kidneys have a vital role in maintaining the overall healthy, as not only they cleanse the blood, but they also regulate the balance of minerals and salts in the body.


Symptoms of acute renal failure include:

1. Pattern / urinary cycle

The color, the ease or the texture of the urination can indicate the kidney health. You should consult a doctor if you notice some of these symptoms:

• Need to urinate throughout the night
• Pale or dark urine
• Foamy urine
• Urinating difficulty
• Uncommon increased or reduced amounts of urine
• Need to put additional pressure while urinating

2. Fatigue

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone produced by the kidney that regulates the production of red blood cells in the body. When the kidney does not function properly, the hormone release is hindered, which leads to energy loss and fatigue. If you experience tiredness and dizziness during the day or if you notice changes in the urine color, you should consult a doctor immediately.

3. Metal taste in the mouth

When there are excess residues in the body, they hinder the way people taste food. This means that the kidneys do not function properly and do not filter fluids in the body, which causes bad breath and metal taste in the mouth.

4. Nausea, dizziness and low concentration

Acute kidney failure often causes low concentration and kidney malfunction. Moreover, it reduces the supply of blood to the brain, which leads to concentration difficulty. In addition, acute kidney failure leads to lightheartedness, nausea and memory loss.

5. Pain in the low back

The kidneys in the body are located near the upper part of the back, when the pain of acute kidney failure is manifested, indicating kidney issues.

6. Shortness of breath

Kidney malfunction prevents the purification of blood. This leads to low production of red blood cells, low levels of oxygen in the cells and tissues, which in turn causes shortness of breath.

7. Rashes

When the accumulation of residues in the body is increased, we experience acute kidney failure. One of the most common symptoms of acute renal failure include unhealthy skin, rashes, itching and changes in the color or the texture of the skin.

8. Inflammation and swelling

Inflammation is one of the most common symptoms of acute kidney failure. Kidney malfunction indicates that the blood isn’t being purified. Fluid retention can lead to swelling of the feet and the legs.


Even though acute kidney failure is more common for hospitalized patients, like intensive care patients, it can also occur due to:

• Interrupted blood flow
• Chronic infections
• Advanced age
• Malignant hypertension
• Diabetes, particularly if it is not treated
• Immunological disorders
• Hepatic or renal issues
• Bladder obstruction
• Prostatic hypertrophy
• Kidney damage
• Blocked ureters (urinary drainage tubes)
• Inflammation of the blood vessels, or vasculitis
• Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITTP)
• Toxins, like alcohol, cocaine or heavy metals
• Scleroderma, a skin disease
• Multiple myeloma
• Medications, like antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, etc.
• Lupus
• Severe dehydration
• Acute tubular necrosis (ATN)
• Transfusion reaction


Other serious health issues may also affect acute kidney failure even though the symptoms are often attributed to another health issue or are unnoticed at all. If you experience some of the symptoms mentioned above, you can do a few urine or blood tests.

You may notice some alternations, such as: low urine volume (less than 500 ml), high electrolytes, like potassium, and high creatinine and blood urea.

The cause of the acute kidney failure may be determined by a renal biopsy or an abdominal ultrasound. If the acute kidney failure is addressed on time, it can be easily reversed.

However, if it is not addressed on time, it may lead to permanent loss of the kidney function or it may require kidney transplantation or dialysis.

Health conditions that may increase the risk of acute renal failure are:

• Liver disease
• Kidney disease
• High blood pressure
• Heart failure
• Diabetes
• Blocked blood vessels in the legs and the arms
• Morbid obesity

Kidneys play a vital role in maintaining the overall health. Therefore, if you notice some of the symptoms of acute kidney failure, you should consult a doctor immediately. The sooner it is addressed on time, the easier it can be reversed.

Reference: MAYO Clinic