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Renal Failure: Causes and Treatment


The kidneys are vital for the removal of excess fluids and toxic substances from the body. However, there are some cases where they kidneys fail to function normally. Renal failure is a medical condition where the kidneys stops filtering the solid materials in urine like toxins and other waste products from the blood. The renal failure can be classified as either acute of or chronic renal diseases. It is a decline in the amount of glomerular filtration rate. There are many causes of kidney failure, and they are classified according to the type of renal failure an individual is suffering. The two main divisions are the acute and the chronic renal failures. The treatment for the renal or kidney failure varies depending considerably due to the extent of the damage and the cause of the failure.

Causes of Acute renal failure

The disorder occurs when the kidney receives less blood from the heart than it normally requires. The toxins in the kidney pile up and they end up overloading the kidney. The causes of kidney failures are many, and they include injuries caused by accidents, or the after effects of a surgical procedure. The crush syndrome is an example of an accidental cause of acute failure. This is where blood suddenly releases high levels of toxins into the kidney. The above causes prevent a normal blood flow to the kidneys. Therefore, the kidneys stop operating normally, and end up becoming intoxicated.

The other cause of kidney failure is a decrease in the blood pressure of an individual. The kidney will not be able to filter the components of blood leading to a further decrease in blood pressure. Dehydration for long hours can also lead to acute renal failure because the concentration of the blood pumped into the kidney will be high, leading to a high osmotic pressure in the kidney. Lack of salt in the blood can also be a cause of kidney failure, (Escott-Stump, 2008 pp 132).

The flow of urine out of the body is also beneficial in keeping the kidneys functioning well. However, the blockage of the discharge of urine form the body can lead to acute renal failure. This is because the urine will be continually produced, but there is no discharge at the other end. The cause of this blockage can be kidney stones. A sudden relieve of pressure from an organ that was not receiving or sending blood to the heart and the kidney, can also cause acute kidney failure by clogging it.

Causes of chronic renal failure

Diabetes mellitus is a common cause of chronic kidney failure. The glucose level of the blood is high thus, leads to an overload of the kidney. The other cause of kidney failure is hypertension also known as high blood pressure. It leads to chronic kidney failure if it continues for a long time with no efforts taken to control its effects.

Hypertension causes kidney failure because it affects blood cells found in the nephrons. The result of this action is the loss of their primary function; to regulate the glomerular filtration in terms of its pressure and entry in and out of the nephrons. The next thing that occurs in the kidney is the presence of albuminuria and proteinuria. The high concentration of the glomerular filtrate forces the nephrons to strain as it tries to absorb the excess minerals and proteins in the filtrate. This causes further damage to the nephrons resulting in production renin-angiotensin-aldosterone, which is the, final blow to the damaged nephrons, ( Shikora, Martindale, Schwaitzberg, American Society for Parental and Eternal Nutrition, Robert, Steven, 2002 pp 58).

There are genetic causes of chronic renal failures that include the polycystic kidney disease. This is a leading cause of kidney failure in families that have had a history of this disease in their families. Using drugs for a long time may also result in kidney failure. These drugs include pain relievers like paracetamols, and aspirins. There are infectious diseases like the Hantavirus that attack the kidneys and can lead to chronic renal failure. There are cases where the kidney becomes autoimmune and develops diseases like acute nephritic syndrome and the interstitial nephritis, (Duggan, 2008 pp 143).

Azotaemia is another cause of renal failure. This is a condition where the waste products and toxins build up in the blood and in the other parts of the body, leading to overload in the kidneys that end up being kidney failure. During pregnancy, a woman my develop chronic renal failure due to the complications she encounters during prenatal. The complications can be a placenta abruptio or placenta previa.

Nutritional treatment of renal failure

The kidney removes waste products from the body and excess body fluids. The kidney performs these functions by filtering the components of blood and discards the ones that are no longer required. This functioning of the kidneys stops r slows down of a person is suffering from acute or chronic renal failure. The patient has to be careful of the diet he or she takes so that he does not make the situation bad. The patient gets guidance on the king of diet that is most suitable for the cause of kidney failure he or she is suffering from at that time. Most of the nutritional treatment recommendations seek to reduce the amount of strain that the kidney will have as it tries to eliminate the end products of the food.


The type of dietary restriction or recommendation depends on the cause of the kidney failure. Those patients with diabetes mellitus will be told to reduce or stop any intake of proteins. The reason for the reduction in the uptake of proteins is because the patients are at high risk of hyperalbumimenia. The slow or total abstain from the uptake of proteins reduce the rate with which kidney failure develops. There is a recommended level of protein intake that reduces the rate of development of a kidney failure. This is because a patient will become malnourished if he or she stops taking any proteins. Research shows that the recommended level of protein that a patient should take in a day is a diet with 0.28 kg of proteins in a day. The above figure will maintain the protein level of a patient in a reasonable status that would not lead to malnutrition. At the same time, the protein intake will not act as an accelerator in the development of kidney failure. This dietary recommendation attempts to reduce the development of proteinuria that leads to a high concentration in the glomerular filtrate, ( Stanfield, Hui 2009 pp 213).

The other reason for the dietary restriction of protein intake is the waste products it produces after its use in the body. Once the proteins get broken down in the body, it produces urea. The level of urea in the body should be kept as minimal as possible. However, a patient with a kidney failure will not be able to excrete the urea. The level of urea in the body will keep on going up until it becomes toxic l. The concentration of urea in the bloodstream will rise leading to alteration of the components of the blood. The other effect of the increased level of urea is the functioning of the nephrons. The nephrons will not mange to filter the blood; this will strain the nephrons causing them to stop functioning leading to an even worse situation than the one person is currently facing. The amount of proteins recommended for a patient depends of the type of kidney failure that the patient is suffering from, and the treatment he or she is receiving.


The kidney’s function is to eliminate excess phosphorous from the body. The function of the phosphorous is to strengthen the bones in conjunction with calcium. The two minerals work together to develop strong bones and develop other bones. Having a kidney failure means that the kidney is not able to remove the extra phosphorous from the body. The excess phosphorous will cause the bones to discharge the calcium in their reserves. The result of the release of calcium from the bones will be brittle and weak. Bones with little or no calcium get fractured extremely easily, and the healing process is extremely slow. A patient should take small amounts or no phosphorous at all. The patient should stop eating food that is rich in phosphorous. The foods that a patient should avoid in this case are milk, eggs, beans and other foods that contain high protein levels, (Byham-Gray, Wiesen, American Dietetic Association, Renal Practice Group, National Kidney Foundation, Council on Renal Nutrition 2004 pp113).


One of the primary functions of a kidney is maintaining a constant blood pressure. To do this the, kidney have to regulate the osmotic balance in the blood. It does this by excreting more water if the level of sodium in the body is low and less water if the sodium level is high. Excessive intake of calcium leads to an increase in its concentration, in the bloodstream. The kidney will have to retain more water than is normally required in an attempt to maintain a constant blood pressure. If a person continues taking sodium, then the blood pressure will rise automatically. The high blood pressure will put a lot of pressure on the kidneys and might cause the situation to go from coarse to worse. The patients get advice on the amount of sodium they can take in every day. Most of the patients have to avoid food that has salt, and food that has been canned because they contain high quantities of sodium. The recommended sodium intake in a day for a patient with kidney failure should be less than 1,500 mg. Adding salt to food is not recommended for all patients, (Mitch, Ikizler, 2009 pp 199).


Potassium is particularly beneficial in the body for regulating the rate of the heart beats. However, too much potassium in the human body translates to a heart beat that is not normal. The heart beat can either increase or decrease depending on the amount of potassium in the blood. Therefore, a person suffering from a kidney failure should be particularly keen in the amount of potassium he or she is taking. Foods rich in potassium levels are mainly bananas, spinach, tomatoes and potatoes. Reducing the amount of potassium in the body will relieve the kidney of the excessive work it will have to do as it tries to eliminate it. This will make the situation better as the kidney will not have to strain than when the kidney has to eliminate the excess potassium.


The kidney has many functions including eliminating excess fluids from the body. A person with a kidney failure has to watch his or her fluid intake. Taking excess fluids means that they kidney will be overloaded as it tries to make urine, in order to eliminate the fluids than when a person takes a reasonable amount of fluid. The constant creation of urine by the kidney causes it to strain making the situation bad. The amount of fluid intake in a day is not consistent for all kidney patients. However, the patient should talk to the doctor so that they can determine the correct amount of fluid that the patient should take in a day, ( Suzuki, Kimmel, 2007 pp 213).


A kidney patient should increase the intake of vegetables in his diet. Vegetables are a compelling alternative for meat and other portentous foods. A vegetarian will have an easier time managing his or her condition as compared to a person a person who consumes meat. This is because meat has high levels of proteins, as opposed to the other products like peas and nut which are alternatives for meat. Consuming lots of vegetables increases the level of vitamin C in the blood and strengthens the basements of the blood capillaries. Vitamin C is vital in this case as it helps regenerate the tissues of the kidney and the glomerular walls. The regeneration of the walls of the glomerular reduces the amount of proteins that leak to the proximal tubule and distal tubules. This leads to a decrease in the amount of proteins and other minerals that have to be reabsorbed into the blood stream. The other advantage of vitamin C is that it not reabsorbed into the blood stream. This means that it does not strain the kidneys like the other minerals, (Debruyne, Pinna, Whitney, 2011 pp 115). A patient can take increase the amount of vegetables that he or she consumes in a day by taking vegetable juice regularly. Vitamin C is also beneficial in diluting the acids formed in the kidney due to the high concentration of minerals. The vitamin dissolves substances in the kidney that accumulate to form kidney stones.


Carbohydrates are also indispensable in regulating and preventing ketosis. Carbohydrates reduce the catabolism process of the products of proteins in the kidney. The carbohydrates help in reducing the amount of urea formed in the kidneys, and it reduces the strain that the kidneys undergo as it filters proteins.

Sugar intake

The formation of kidney stone is also associated with high intake of sugar. A person suffering from kidney failure should minimize the amount of sugar that he or she takes in the attempt to reduce the strain of his or her kidneys. High sugar levels in the blood increases the osmotic pressure of the blood leading to high blood pressure. The cause of this problem is the high water level that the body needs to keep the osmotic pressure constant. This causes the kidney to strain as it has to reabsorb a lot of water back into the body.


Taking supplements of proteins and magnesium like amino acids will help maintain a healthy nutritional level of the patient who ids not taking proteins and calcium. Supplements of vitamin B-complex also help the kidney by reducing the chances of development of kidney stones.


Kidney failure is becoming extremely common, and the causes of this problem are many. The acute renal failure is reversible. If the patient goes to the hospital early enough and the doctor detects a problem in the kidney, puts him or her under medication and the situation observed for a while. Chronic renal failure is as a result of a continuous acute failure. The situation is irreversible, but a patient can be put under medication and advised on how best to manage the situation. The patient can do this by eating a diet that does not worsen the situation. The dietary treatment aims at reducing the strain that the kidney undergoes as it tries to perform its functions. The patient has to be keen in maintaining in the dietary treatment. This is because the treatment recommends avoidance of some important minerals in the body that perform substantial body functions. The doctor recommends the correct level of intake of food that contains certain minerals. This form of treatment is effective if the patient and the doctor can come up with the best diet for the patient that will help lessen the problem. The patient should also be committed to the dietary treatment and observe his or her diet closely. The close relationship will ensure that the patient follows the recommendations to the later.


Byham-Gray, L., & Wiesen, K,. & American Dietetic Association,. & Renal Practice Group., & National Kidney Foundation,. & Council on Renal Nutrition. 2004. A clinical guide to nutrition care in kidney disease. New York: American Dietetic Association:

Debruyne, L. K., & Pinna, E., & Whitney, N. 2011. Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition. New York: Cengage Learning.

Duggan, C., & Watkins, J. B. 2008. Nutrition in pediatrics: basic science, clinical applications. Philadelphia: PMPH-USA.

Escott-Stump, S. 2008. Nutrition and diagnosis-related care. London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Mitch, W. E., & Ikizler, T. A. 2009. Handbook of Nutrition and the Kidney. Chicago: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Shikora, A. S., & Martindale, R. G. & Schwaitzberg, S,B., American Society for Parental and Eternal Nutrition, Robert George , Steven B. 2002. Nutritional considerations in the intensive care unit: science, rationale and practice. Hampshire: Kendall Hunt.

Stanfield, P., & Hui Y. H. 2009. Nutrition and Diet Therapy: Self-Instructional Approaches. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Suzuki, H., & Kimmel, P. L. 2007. Nutrition and kidney disease: a new era. New York: Karger Publishers.

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