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Acute Kidney Injury: Symptoms and Treatment

An acute kidney injury (AKI) happens when your kidneys begin to fail suddenly. Your doctors at Iowa Kidney Physicians in Des Moines, IA, treat AKI and other kidney conditions.

What happens when you have an AKI?

Your kidneys filter waste out of your blood and get rid of extra fluids in your body. When the kidneys are damaged by an AKI, they can't carry out these jobs as well. As a result, waste begins to build up in your body, threatening your health.

What are the symptoms of AKI?

Because an AKI can happen suddenly, you may be feeling fine one day and awful the next. Common signs and symptoms of AKI can include:

  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs or around the eyes due to fluid retention
  • Producing less urine than normal
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea

Although anyone can develop AKI, you may be at higher risk if:

  • You're in the hospital already
  • You injured your kidneys
  • You have a kidney blockage
  • You took too much of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium
  • You had a heart attack
  • You experienced blood loss
  • You had an allergic reaction
  • Your liver, heart or other organs are failing
  • You've been experiencing severe diarrhea and loss of fluids
  • You have diabetes, peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, or kidney or heart disease.
  • You had a severe burn

How is AKI treated?

If you have any of the symptoms above, call your kidney doctor or go to a Des Moines emergency room right away. Without immediate treatment, you may be at risk of heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease or failure, or even death.

Treating the underlying condition that caused your AKI can help improve the function of your kidneys. Depending on the severity of your condition and the cause, you may need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids, undergo surgery to remove blockages, or take medications to balance the levels of calcium or potassium in your blood. In some cases, dialysis treatments that remove waste products from your blood may be recommended. Dialysis may be a short-term solution until your kidney function improves.

Are you concerned that you or a loved one in the Des Moines, IA, area may have an acute kidney injury? Call Iowa Kidney Physicians at (515) 336-6557 or (515) 243-3161 to schedule an appointment.