Chronic renal failure is an deficiency in kidney function. Kidneys clean waste from the blood, which passes out of the body in urine.

Anatomy of the Kidney


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Chronic renal failure is often caused by diseases such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular diseases
  • Kidney diseases
  • Obstructive diseases, such as kidney stones
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Acute tubular necrosis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Renal tubular disorders
  • Toxin/drug-induced kidney disease
  • Severe infection
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of chronic renal failure include:

  • Race: African Americans more than Caucasians
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Vesicoureteral reflux
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Exposure to high levels of lead
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Other family members with kidney disease
  • A previous kidney transplant
  • Symptoms

    Chronic renal failure may cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Weak appetite
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Altered taste
  • Altered mental state
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Tests may include

  • Blood tests
  • Kidney biopsy
  • Ultrasound
  • Those who are already at high risk for kidney disease should be tested more frequently so any damage can be diagnosed early. People with kidney disease will be referred to a nephrologist (a doctor who specializes in treating kidney disorders).


    Chronic renal failure cannot be cured. It is possible to slow the progression of kidney damage.

    Treatment may include:

  • Controlling protein in the urine by restricting the amount of protein in the diet or medication
  • Taking ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor antagonists
  • Reducing the use of and the dosages of drugs that may be toxic to the kidneys
  • Managing the complications of chronic renal disease such as fluid overload, high blood phosphate or potassium levels, low blood level of calcium, and anemia
  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Controlling blood sugar and lipid levels
  • Staying hydrated
  • Controlling salt in the diet
  • Participating in an exercise training program to keep you physically fit and reduce the chance of depression
  • Quitting smoking
  • Undergoing dialysis , a medical process that cleans the blood
  • Having a kidney transplant
  • Counseling for you and your family about dialysis and/or transplant options
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of chronic renal failure:

  • Get a physical exam every year that includes a urine test to monitor your kidney's health.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit..
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Drink water and other fluids to stay hydrated.
  • People who have diabetes, previously known kidney disease, high blood pressure, or are over the age of 60 should be screened regularly for kidney disease.
  • People with a family history of kidney disease should also be screened regularly.