Renal failure is a serious medical condition affecting the kidneys. When a person suffers from renal failure, their kidneys are not functioning properly or no longer work at all. Renal failure can be a progressive disease or a temporary one depending on the cause and available treatment options.
The kidneys are glands that are located in the abdominal region just above the pelvis on either side of the body. When functioning normally, the kidneys separate and filter excess water and waste from the blood stream. The kidneys are responsible for producing urine, which is used to flush away the toxins. The kidneys also maintain a healthy balance of fluids and electrolytes, or salt compounds, in the body.
In renal failure the kidneys undergo cellular death and are unable to filter wastes, produce urine and maintain fluid balances. This dysfunction causes a build up of toxins in the body which can affect the blood, brain and heart, as well as other complications. Renal failure is very serious and even deadly if left untreated.
There are two types of renal failure: acute and chronic. Acute renal failure occurs suddenly and is usually initiated by underlying causes, for example dehydration, infection, serious injury to the kidney or the chronic use of over the counter pain medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen). Acute renal failure is often reversible with no lasting damage.