Acute Kidney Injury: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Acute kidney injury (AKI), is the sudden decrease in kidney function. This can happen over a period of hours, days or, in some cases, weeks. AKI used to be called acute renal failure, but kidney failure doesn't always happen with AKI. Common causes of AKI are dehydration, blood loss, and medicines.

When AKI happens, the kidneys have trouble removing waste and excess fluids from the body. The waste and fluids build up and become harmful.

Kidney function may return to normal if the cause of AKI is treated quickly. Your chance of a full recovery depends on what caused the problem, how quickly the cause was treated, and what other medical problems you have. A machine may be used to help your kidneys remove waste and fluids for a short period of time. This is called dialysis.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should drink.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about what type of diet may be best for you. You may need to limit sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • If you need dialysis, follow the instructions and schedule for dialysis that your doctor gives you.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make your condition worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Review all of your medicines with your doctor. Do not take any medicines, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), unless your doctor says it is safe for you to do so.
  • Make sure that anyone treating you for any health problem knows that you have had AKI.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have less urine than normal or no urine.
  • You have trouble urinating or can urinate only very small amounts.
  • You are confused or have trouble thinking clearly.
  • You feel weaker or more tired than usual.
  • You are very thirsty, light-headed, or dizzy.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.
  • You have new swelling of your arms or feet, or your swelling is worse.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • Your body weight goes up every day.
  • You have new or worse trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: November 20, 2015