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The signs and symptoms of kidney failure include a decrease in urine output, fluid retention, swelling, drowsiness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and in severe cases, chest pain, seizure, or coma. Though a decrease in urine output is a common symptom, it may not be a marked decrease. Fluid retention is the most noticeable sign, and swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs as a result of the fluid build-up is generally obvious.
Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to remove excess fluid and waste from the blood stream. It can happen suddenly as a result of trauma or injury, after a complicated or extensive surgery, or when the blood flow to the kidneys is disrupted. This is called acute kidney failure and often happens to patients who are already hospitalized. Unlike chronic kidney failure, which occurs gradually over time as a secondary result to a primary disease or condition, the acute type is reversible.
Both types of kidney failure require medical attention. If early signs of this condition go unnoticed, waste begins to build up inside the body and can be fatal. If a person who is diabetic, has high blood pressure, has had recent major surgery, or has had a heat stroke stops having urine output or begins retaining fluid, he or she should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment for this condition involves treating any underlying illnesses that might be damaging the kidneys, and then treating the symptoms of kidney failure while the kidneys heal. In most cases, a change in dietary habits is necessary. In some cases, dialysis, which is a way of removing excess toxins from the body mechanically, may be necessary. Dialysis might be temporary for acute kidney failure, but the chronic type may require life-long dialysis if a kidney transplant fails or is not an option.