Helping Patients with Acute Kidney Failure

Most people think that acute kidney failure would present with symptoms too obvious to ignore.

They expect to be bedridden…deathly ill…in and out of the hospital…

What they don’t realize is that acute kidney failure often doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms.  Many times it’s detected when the patient is already in the hospital for something else and evidence is found through tests.

As a clinician, especially a NeuropathyDR® clinician specializing in treating patients with neuropathy, that makes your job especially tough in reaching out to these patients and getting them in for treatment before it’s too late and permanent damage is done.

Most of the time, you won’t see these patients until they have[1]

∙           Swelling, especially in the legs and feet

∙           Cramps, muscle twitching or muscle weakness

∙           Little or no urine output

∙           Thirst and a dry mouth

∙           Dizziness

∙           Rapid heart rate

∙           Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite

∙           Confusion

∙           Anxiety or restlessness

∙           Pain on one side of the back just below the rib cage but above the waist

∙           Fatigue

These are all symptoms of acute kidney failure.  And the root cause of many of these symptoms is a serious complication of kidney failure – uremic neuropathy.  Uremic neuropathy or neuropathy associated with kidney failure is a very common complication of kidney failure.

The sad thing is that by the time they’re exhibiting several of these symptoms, their uremic neuropathy may have already done serious damage to their body.  If you have patients with conditions like lupus, diabetes or hepatic (liver) failure, they’re especially prone to acute kidney failure and uremic neuropathy.  Your best bet to treat them effectively and keep them off dialysis and off the transplant list is to educate them.  The more they know about the possibility of developing uremic neuropathy from acute kidney failure, the more likely they’ll be to show up in your office for help before they have irreversible problems.

First, explain uremic neuropathy…

What Is Uremic Neuropathy[2]?

Uremic neuropathy is a type of neuropathy caused by an increase in uremic toxins in the blood (the toxins urine usually removed from the body when the kidneys function properly.) The severity of their uremic neuropathy is directly linked to the severity of their kidney failure.  If their kidney failure is acute, their uremic neuropathy is pretty serious.

How Can Kidney Failure Lead to Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is one of the worst results of chronic kidney disease.  Acute kidney failure damages the kidneys.  When the kidneys are damaged fluids, waste products and toxins build up in the body.   Because many organs and bodily systems (particularly the nervous system) are directly affected by this build up of toxins, acute kidney failure leads to overall poor health and inflammation and nerve damage.

Once the nerves are damaged, they cease to function properly.  One complication leads to another and, in 20% to 50% of patients with acute kidney failure, they’ll develop uremic neuropathy.

Treatment and Prognosis

Your patient’s best course of action is to catch their kidney issues before they become acute and they develop uremic neuropathy.  Unfortunately, once the kidneys are that severely damaged, dialysis and possible kidney transplant are virtually inevitable.

That’s why you need to impress upon your patients how vitally important it is that they not ignore symptoms and that they seek treatment immediately once they notice a problem.  Acute kidney failure and uremic neuropathy are not conditions that just get better on their own.

As a NeuropathyDR® clinician you have a wonderful protocol to assist you in working with your patients and their whole medical team to treat and manage your underlying condition before they become acute.

Some programs you can offer your patients are:

∙           Diet Planning and Nutritional Support

They need to give their bodies the nutrition they need to heal.

A low protein diet is best for patients with kidney disease.

If your patient has diabetes, they need to follow a diet specifically designed for diabetics and to control their blood sugar.

∙          Individually Designed Exercise Programs

If your patient is experiencing dizziness, rapid heart rate, extreme thirst or issues with impaired sensation in their feet and legs, they have to be very careful with their exercise program.  You can design an exercise program specifically for them that will allow them to exercise but not push them beyond what their body is capable of.  And, even more importantly, continually monitor their progress and adjust the program as needed.

These changes in conjunction with medications and possibly more involved medical intervention will make it easier to live with acute kidney failure and uremic neuropathy. Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is still the best policy if they have any of the underlying conditions that can cause uremic neuropathy.  If they already have symptoms, start treatment immediately.

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[1] http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-health/?gclid=CIy7yPXaiKoCFaZd5QodhTvoyA

[2] www.kidney.org/professionals/kdoqi/guidelines_ckd/p6_comp_g11.htm