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Acute Kidney Injury in Children: Care Instructions


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a 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 serious infection, 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 go back to normal if the cause is treated. Your child's chance of a full recovery depends on what caused the AKI. It also depends on what other medical problems your child has. Your child may have a treatment called dialysis. It does the work of healthy kidneys to remove waste and fluids for a short time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Talk to your doctor about how much fluid your child should drink.
  • Be sure your child eats a healthy diet. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about what type of diet may be best for your child. Your child may need to limit sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • If your child needs dialysis, follow the instructions and schedule for dialysis that your doctor gives you.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Review all of your child's medicines with your doctor. Do not give your child any medicines, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), unless your doctor says it is safe to do so.
  • Make sure that anyone who treats your child for any health problem knows that your child has a history of acute kidney injury.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

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

  • Your child has new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • Your child has much less urine than normal or has no urine.
  • Your child is feeling confused or cannot think clearly.
  • Your child has new or more blood in the urine.
  • Your child has new swelling.
  • Your child is dizzy or light-headed, or feels about to faint.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.