If your signs and symptoms suggest that you have the acute kidney failure, your doctor may recommend certain tests and procedures to verify your diagnosis. These may include:
1. Urine output measurements
Measuring the amount of urination within 24 hours may help your doctor determine the cause of kidney failure.
2. Urine tests
Analyzing a sample of your urine (urinalysis) may reveal the abnormalities that suggest kidney failure.
3. Blood tests
A sample of your blood may reveal a rapid rise in levels of urea and creatinine — two substances used to measure kidney function.
4. Imaging tests
Imaging tests such as ultrasound and CT may be used to help your doctor see your kidneys.
Take a sample of kidney tissue for examination. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to remove a small sample of kidney tissue for examination in a laboratory. Your doctor inserts a needle through your skin and into your kidney to remove sample.
Treatment for acute kidney failure usually requires a hospital stay. Most people with the acute kidney failure are already hospitalized. How long you’ll be in the hospital depends on the cause of your acute kidney failure and how quickly your kidneys recover.
In some cases, you may be able to recover at the home.
Treating the underlying cause of a kidney injury
Treatment for acute kidney failure involves identifying the disease or injury that originally damaged your kidneys. Treatment options depend on cause of the kidney failure.
Treat complications until the kidneys recover
Your doctor will also work to prevent complications and allow your kidneys to heal. Treatments that help prevent complications include:
1. Treatments to balance the amount of fluid in the blood
If the cause of your acute kidney failure is a lack of fluid in the blood, your doctor may recommend intravenous (IV) fluids. In other cases, acute kidney failure may cause too much fluid, resulting in swollen arms and legs. In these cases, your doctor may recommend medications (diuretics) to make your body expel the extra fluid.
2. Medicines to control potassium in the blood
If your kidneys aren’t filtering potassium from the blood properly, your doctor may prescribe calcium, glucose, or sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Kunix) to prevent high levels of potassium from building up in the blood. Too much potassium in the blood can lead to an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and muscle weakness.
3. Medicines to restore calcium levels in the blood
If the levels of calcium in your blood are too low, your doctor may recommend a dose of calcium.
4. Dialysis to remove toxins from the blood
If toxins build up in your blood, you may need temporary dialysis — often referred to as hemodialysis — to help remove toxins and extra fluid from your body while your kidneys recover. Hemodialysis may also help remove excess potassium from your body. During hemodialysis, a machine pumps blood out of the body through an artificial kidney (dialysis machine) to filter waste. Then the blood returns to your body.
Depending on your condition, your dietitian may recommend the following:
1. Choose foods that are low in potassium
A dietitian may recommend choosing foods that are low in potassium. Foods rich in the potassium include bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes. Examples of foods low in potassium include apples, broccoli, peppers, grapes, and strawberries.
2. Avoid products with added salt
Reduce the amount of sodium you eat each day by avoiding products with added salt, including many prepared foods, such as frozen dinners, canned soup, and fast foods. Other foods with added salt include salty snack foods, canned vegetables, processed meats, and cheese.
3. Reducing phosphorous
Phosphorous is a mineral found in foods, such as whole-grain bread, oatmeal, bran cereal, dark cola, nuts, and peanut butter. Having too much phosphorous in your blood can weaken your bones and cause your skin to itch. A dietitian can give you specific recommendations on phosphorous and how to limit it in your particular case.
As your kidneys recover, you may no longer need to go on a special diet, although healthy eating remains important.
Preparing for your appointment
Most people are already hospitalized when they develop the acute kidney failure. If you or a loved one develops signs and symptoms of kidney failure, discuss your concerns with your doctor or nurse.
If you’re not in the hospital, but have signs or symptoms of kidney failure, make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor suspects you have kidney problems, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in kidney diseases (nephrologist).