What happens when the kidneys fail?

If the kidneys are damaged, they may carry on producing urine but become less efficient at removing waste products from the blood. Instead, the waste products continue to circulate and build up in the bloodstream.

At the same time, without the hormones that a healthy kidney would produce, the bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing red cells, so anaemia develops.

For some patients, this may be a very gradual process. Over time, however, it can cause quite a wide range of symptoms. Not everyone will experience all the symptoms. Also, because it can be such a gradual process, some people don't even realise the effect the symptoms are having until - with treatment - they begin to feel better.

Once the kidney problem has been diagnosed, regular blood tests will be required to monitor if it is stable or getting worse. Treatment with a variety of drugs may be needed, for example, to control blood pressure or to treat the complications of kidney disease.

Remember, your treatment may be changed quite frequently based on the results of your blood tests. You may require dialysis at some time in the future.

What are the symptoms of kidney failure?

Back to The physical aspects of kidney failure

See also: What patients say..