Renal Failure

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Renal failure (sometimes called kidney disease) refers to both short- and long-term or permanent kidney damage that affects how your child’s kidneys function.

Renal failure is classified into two types:

  • Acute (begins suddenly)
  • Chronic (develops slowly over months)


Some causes of acute renal failure include:

Some causes of chronic renal failure include:

Symptoms of Renal Failure

Some general symptoms of renal failure may include:

  • Swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in urine frequency
  • Pale appearance
  • Mass in the stomach

Symptoms of acute and chronic renal failure may differ.

Symptoms of acute renal failure may include:

  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Eye swelling

Symptoms of chronic renal failure may include:

  • Change in appetite
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Fatigue or general discomfort
  • Bone pain
  • Headache
  • Stunted growth
  • Bad breath
  • Hearing problems
  • Irritability
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Change in mental alertness

Diagnosis and Treatment at UVA

At UVA, your child’s doctor will work with a nephrologist (doctor that specializes in kidney diseases) to determine how to diagnose and treat your child. The doctors may perform or recommend:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Kidney biopsy 

Treatment will depend on the cause of your child’s kidney disease as well as how badly the kidneys are damaged. Your child may need to stay at the hospital for treatment.

Treatments for acute renal failure may include:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Medications, such as diuretics or blood pressure medicine
  • Monitoring of electrolytes
  • Special diet 

Treatments for chronic renal failure may include:

  • Dialysis
  • Surgery
  • Special diet
  • Medications to control related conditions