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Myths about Acute Renal Failure

Acute Renal Failure is a loss in the ability of kidneys to remove waste. Here are popular myths that are believed regarding it.

Acute Renal failure is hereditaryThe fact is that only a very few kidney diseases are hereditary whereas most of them are not hereditary and can be caused due to various factors. Acute renal failure is not hereditary and can be caused due to blockage resulting from damage to the kidneys. Polycystic kidney disease is one such kidney disease which runs in families and is hereditary in nature and has a strong familial component. A genetic variant is known to be associated with increased risk of developing such renal diseases. Research is ongoing to gather more scientific information to interpret the genetic risk of kidney diseases.Functional disabilities occur even due to one dysfunctional kidneyRenal problems occur only when both the kidneys are affected and most kidney diseases affect both the kidneys. Even if a single kidney is functioning, the excretory function is quite normal and parameters like blood urea will not increase in blood until both the kidneys are damaged. Kidney failure occurs when both the kidneys lose their functional ability (either partly or completely) to remove wastes and other toxins from the blood. Acute renal disease can cause renal failure if left untreated and can even result in decrease in GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate), elevated levels of substances, minerals and abnormal fluid levels etc.Mechanical or positive pressure ventilation impairs renal function and causes acute renal failureIn positive-pressure ventilation, airway pressure is applied to the patient’s airway and there is no evidence that mechanical ventilation impairs function of the kidneys, even though it is a common myth. However, it is important for community workers to be aware of the possible consequences of this intervention. Several mechanisms have come up to explain the relation between mechanical ventilation and pathogenesis of acute renal failure. More evidence through research is needed to examine the effect of this technique on various functions and overall outcome. There are some theories which suggest that positive pressure ventilation could hamper renal function but there is no proper evidence which confirms this fact.Dietary management has no role in treating or preventing acute renal failureDietary management is an important component in patients with acute renal disease. Treating underlying gastrointestinal problems can improve nutrition status and overall health further reducing morbidity in patients suffering from acute renal failure. The main function of the kidney is to excrete waste products and other excess minerals from blood. In case, damage is already done to the kidneys due to acute renal disease then the function is impaired, so a special diet should be followed to prevent further damage. A low protein, phosphorous diet can be taken to keep the body healthy and to reduce the strain on the kidneys.Traditional markers like albumin may not reflect the inflammatory status in acute renal failureIn diseases in which kidney function is impaired, a protein called albumin gets excreted along with other wastes which usually does not occur in a healthy individual. Malnutrition occurs in people suffering from kidney diseases so traditional markers like albumin can be used to know about the kidney status and can be used as a tool to alert the clinician to changes in nutrition status of the patient. ‘Microalbuminaria’ will cause albumin to be excreted in urine in less amounts. Excretion of any protein in the urine indicates that kidneys are damaged and steps should be taken at the earliest to prevent further worsening of the condition. So, albumin is, in fact, an indicator of kidney status in patients suffering from acute renal failure and other kidney diseases.Patients with acute renal failure can take other medicines (for co-existing health problems) without assessment of their kidney functionInterventions which benefit one organ may adversely affect others so treatment should be given accordingly. As excretion of waste products and drugs from the body is one core function of the kidney, drugs should be very carefully used in kidney patients due to a pre-existing impairment in kidney function. Acute renal failure also affect other organs of the body and these changes affect the pharmacology of many medicines. So, kidney function should be carefully assessed before administering drugs as loss of functional abilities change the disposition of drugs inside the body. Caregivers should be more cautious of this aspect in geriatric population or aged people as such problems are more pronounced in them.Patients suffering from acute renal failure require permanent dialysisDialysis is a technique by which a person’s blood is cleaned of the toxins and is carried out when the kidneys do not function properly. Several medical conditions can damage the kidneys and acute renal failure is one of them. As the cause for acute renal failure is identified and treated, the kidneys start functioning normally, so dialysis may be required for a certain period and not forever. In most cases of acute renal failure, the condition gets better after treatment and dialysis may be required for a short period until the kidneys regain their functional ability and get better.People who have recovered completely from acute renal disease cannot donate their kidneyAs the source of acute renal disease is detected and treated, the kidneys function normally and simultaneously the overall health of the individual improves. When the general health of the donor is normal, it is safe to donate a kidney and the person can lead a normal life as well. Some medical conditions disqualify a person from organ donation and this process is based on stringent criteria. If the general health of the person is okay, then there is no need to disqualify them, however a clinician is the right person to judge whether a person’s organ is suitable for transplantation or not.Patients suffering from renal disease should consume large quantities of waterWater is very important for our existence and for our health but maintaining a proper balance is important. Maintenance of water balance is one of the main functions of the kidneys. As there is impairment in the normal function of kidneys in acute renal failure, it becomes necessary to restrict water consumption or consume the required amount rather than having large quantities. At the same time, it is important to remember that insufficient water intake can affect kidneys and can prove fatal. Kidney filters waste water in the form of urine, so, water is very essential but it is always better to take the required quantity rather than consuming large quantities of it.Drinking beverages like beer is good for people suffering from renal diseaseIt is a common myth that drinking beer is good for the kidneys but the actual fact is that such beverages increase urine output, as they have a large content of water and in no way do they contribute to the better functioning of the kidneys. The amount of alcohol in beer can either elevate or reduce the quantity of certain ions in the blood stream. The concentration of dissolved nutrients is low in beer. When a person consumes beer, the concentration of these nutrients decreases and water increases, and this causes a hormonal impairment leading to inadequate water loss from the body. As a result, there is fluid retention and decrease in ionic concentrations inside the body, thereby increasing strain on the kidneys.People suffering from renal disease can use salt substitutesSalt substitutes contain potassium chloride which is very harmful to patients with acute renal failure. Salt substitutes contain two different minerals: potassium and chloride. In these substitutes, the mineral sodium is replaced with potassium. They are definitely not suggested for people undergoing dialysis or those suffering from kidney problems. In such patients, kidney function is already impaired and mineral excretion is not proper, so taking additional minerals like potassium through salt substitutes further worsens the condition. Salt substitutes should be best avoided. A better option is use of other natural herbs and spices in place of such substitutes in food.

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