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Acute Kidney Injury


Acute kidney injury, also called acute kidney failure, happens when your kidneys suddenly stop working correctly. Normally, the kidneys remove fluid, chemicals, and waste from your blood. These wastes are turned into urine by your kidneys. Acute kidney injury is usually temporary, but it may become a chronic kidney condition.


Call 911 if:

  • You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your heart is beating faster than normal for you.
  • You have a seizure.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You urinate less than you normally do.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have abdominal or low back pain.
  • Your skin is itchy or you have a rash.
  • You have nausea, vomit repeatedly, or have severe diarrhea.
  • You have fatigue or muscle weakness.
  • You have hiccups that will not stop.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines are used to increase blood flow to your kidneys and protect your kidneys. You may also need medicine to decrease inflammation in your kidneys.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more tests to make sure your kidneys are working properly. You may also be referred to a kidney specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


Your healthcare provider may tell you to eat food low in sodium (salt), potassium, phosphorus, or protein. You may need to see a dietitian if you need help planning meals.

Prevent acute kidney injury:

  • Manage other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. These conditions increase your risk for acute kidney injury.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before you take over-the-counter-medicine. NSAIDs, stomach medicine, or laxatives may harm your kidneys and increase your risk for acute kidney injury.
  • Tell healthcare providers you have had acute kidney injury before you get contrast liquid for an x-ray or CT scan. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to prevent kidney problems caused by the liquid.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.