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Acute kidney injury

Acute kidney injury or failure refers to the sudden damage of your kidneys. Find out causes, symptoms, and how it’s treated.

A man sits in bed and holds his side in pain

‘Acute kidney injury’ or ‘acute kidney failure’ refers to the sudden damage to your kidneys. In most cases, the injury is short-term and kidney function recovers over time. In other cases, the injury can cause permanent damage and lead to chronic kidney disease. Outcomes vary from:

  • full recovery and normal kidney function
  • partial recovery with a decreased level of kidney function
  • permanent kidney damage (kidney replacement therapy needed with dialysis or a transplant).

Acute kidney injury can happen to anybody when there is:

  • reduced blood supply to the kidneys (i.e. after major surgery or dehydration)
  • damage to kidney tissue caused by a medication, severe infection or radioactive dye
  • physical trauma to the kidney (i.e. a physical injury from playing sport)
  • an obstruction that prevents urine leaving the kidney (i.e. due to kidney stones or an enlarged prostate).

Sometimes, there are no symptoms, so it’s important to see your doctor for a Kidney Health Check if you become unwell. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • a sharp increase of creatinine and other toxins in your blood
  • a build-up of fluid in your body
  • a decreased output of urine.

Have more questions? We're here to help.

If you have questions about your kidney health, our team of health professionals are ready to help answer your questions. Contact our free Kidney Helpline today.

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