Skip to content

    Acute Kidney Injury Versus Chronic Kidney Disease

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Topic Overview

    Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to function. To treat kidney failure effectively, it is important to know whether kidney disease has developed suddenly (acute) or over the long term (chronic). Many conditions, diseases, and medicines can create situations that lead to acute and chronic kidney disease. Acute kidney injury, also called acute renal failure, is more commonly reversible than chronic kidney failure.

    The presence or lack of symptoms may help your doctor determine whether acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease is present.

    Recommended Related to Men

    George Lopez Finds a Perfect Match

    "I'll give you one of mine," Ann Lopez said to her husband the moment the couple learned he would need a kidney transplant. He thought she was joking. But George Lopez, star of ABC's The George Lopez Show, is the comic, not his wife. And so, just before sunrise on a Tuesday in April of 2005, the Lopezes arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where they were prepped for surgery in neighboring rooms. Right before Ann was wheeled to the operating room --- her surgery began first...

    Read the George Lopez Finds a Perfect Match article > >

    • Symptoms of decreased kidney function, such as fluid buildup or electrolyte imbalance, are more likely to develop with acute kidney injury, regardless of how long the kidney has been malfunctioning. Symptoms may reflect the actual cause of the kidney problem.
      • An obstruction in the urinary tract may cause pain in the side or lower back (flank pain), blood in the urine, or reduced urine output.
      • Dehydration may cause extreme thirst; lightheadedness or faintness; a weak, rapid pulse; and other symptoms.
    • Symptoms of chronic kidney disease may not develop until very little kidney function remains. Other problems may develop with chronic kidney disease, such as anemia and increased levels of phosphates in the blood (hyperphosphatemia), along with complications caused by kidney failure. These complications often do not develop until kidney disease has been present for some time.

    Most cases of acute kidney injury occur in people who are already in the hospital for other reasons. In these people, acute kidney injury is usually diagnosed when routine tests show a sudden increase in creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels. A buildup of these waste products in the blood points to a loss of kidney function. Your doctor will compare these levels to previous tests to find out if kidney disease is acute or chronic.

    An ultrasound of the kidneys also may help determine whether kidney problems are acute or chronic. Normal-sized kidneys may be present in either condition, but when both kidneys are smaller than normal, chronic kidney disease is usually the problem.

    1

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Acute Kidney Injury Versus Chronic Kidney Disease Topics

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    acupuncture needle on shoulder
    10 tips to look and feel good.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.