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Is It Possible to Reverse Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys are not able to perform their normal, vital functions, such as filtration and excretion of excess salt, fluid, and waste from the blood. There are two types of kidney failure, acute and chronic. The reversibility of the kidney failure depends on its type.

Usually, the waste products go to the bladder and then excrete the body through urine. However, when the kidneys are not able to perform efficiently, then there is accumulation of all the waste and toxins in the body, which causes a lot of fatal problems.

Chronic kidney disease can lead to gradual kidney failure. Sudden kidney failure is termed as acute kidney failure. The damage done to the kidneys cannot be reversed; but it is possible to reverse acute kidney failure.

Differentiating Between Acute Kidney Failure and Chronic Kidney Failure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the role of healthy kidneys is to filter the blood present in the body every 30 minutes[1]. The kidneys are not able to perform this function when there is chronic kidney failure or acute kidney failure.

Acute kidney failure occurs when there is abrupt loss of the entire functions of the kidney in a few hours or a few days. Some of the common causes for acute kidney failure are: dehydration, septic shock, blood loss, burns, urinary tract blockage; complications in pregnancy and certain medications.

Chronic kidney failure occurs as a result of chronic kidney disease and this condition develops gradually as there is damage to the kidneys over a period of time. As there is worsening of the kidney damage, the function of the kidneys, such as filtering all the toxins from the blood gradually declines and leads to harmful levels in the body and increasing the risk for other health problems, such as stroke and heart disease(1). With time the kidneys stop functioning altogether necessitating dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Is it Possible to Reverse Acute Kidney Failure?

Yes, it is possible to reverse acute kidney failure, can be reversed with prompt treatment in a hospital(2); however, the patient will need to undergo dialysis until the cause of the kidney failure is found and treated. With the right treatment done at the right time, the kidneys can start functioning again in some weeks to months(3). However, in some patients, kidneys cannot regain their function and need kidney transplant or dialysis indefinitely.

Is it Possible to Reverse Chronic Kidney Failure?

It is not possible to reverse chronic kidney failure; however, one can slow the worsening of the chronic kidney disease with lifestyle changes and medications. Hypertension and increased blood glucose from diabetes are the primary causes of chronic kidney disease(4). So, it is important to keep the levels of blood glucose and blood pressure in the normal range for optimum kidney health.

  • Being more physically active.
  • Keeping the weight in a healthy range.
  • Consuming a balanced diet with less salt.
  • Always keeping the cholesterol in the recommended range.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Always taking medications as per the doctor’s instructions.
  • Going for regular checkups.

What are the Symptoms of Kidney Failure?

The symptoms of kidney failure commonly make an appearance in a gradual manner and so they may not be noticeable at first. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), as there is worsening of the kidney function, the patient can experience the following symptoms of kidney failure(5):

  • Having very less or no urine output.
  • Swelling in the ankles, legs, or feet.
  • Feeling sick to your stomach, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Having headaches.
  • Having muscle weakness or cramps.
  • Feeling of itching all over the body.
  • Tiredness and fatigue.
  • Not able to sleep well.
  • Joint stiffness, pain, or fluid.
  • Feeling disorientated or confused.

What is the Prognosis of Kidney Failure?

The prognosis for individuals suffering from kidney failure depends on many factors. For people having acute kidney failure, the recovery is determined by the cause of the kidney failure. If the cause can be reversed, then the chances of full recovery of the kidney function are high. Individuals with acute kidney failure can also only recover their partial kidney function. All the patients suffering from acute kidney failure are at increased risk for having chronic kidney disease in the future.

Chronic kidney failure is also termed as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease is very high in such patients. People suffering from chronic kidney failure and who are on dialysis are about 10 to 30 times more likely to suffer death from cardiovascular disease when compared to others(6).


Depending on the cause, acute kidney failure can be reversed in some patients. However, chronic kidney failure is not reversible, but treatment can be done for chronic kidney disease with medication and lifestyle changes so the progression of this condition gets delayed.

Referral Links:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441896/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519012/
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/prevention-risk.html
  5. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/what-is-kidney-failure
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519012/


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 6, 2024

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