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How Does Acute Kidney Injury (Aki) Occur? Stages, Causes, Signs and Symptoms


Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), also known as acute renal injury, is a critical condition characterized by a sudden and rapid decline in kidney function. This condition can lead to severe complications if not promptly diagnosed and treated. In this comprehensive exploration of AKI, we will delve into its stages, causes, and the signs and symptoms that can help in early detection.


Stages of Acute Kidney Injury:

Acute kidney failure stages are classified into three stages based on the severity of kidney damage: Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3. Each stage represents an escalating level of impairment, emphasizing the urgency of intervention.

  • Stage 1:

In the initial stage, patients may experience a mild decrease in kidney function. The glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a measure of how well the kidneys are filtering waste, is slightly reduced. However, the symptoms may not be apparent, making early detection challenging.

  • Stage 2:

As Acute Kidney Injury progresses to Stage 2, there is a moderate decline in kidney function, and symptoms may become more noticeable. Patients may start experiencing complications such as fluid retention, electrolyte imbalances, and anemia.

  • Stage 3:

This is the most severe stage of acute kidney injury, where there is a significant decline in kidney function. In Stage 3, patients often require immediate medical attention. Complications can include acute kidney failure, necessitating intensive interventions such as dialysis to support kidney function.

Causes of Acute Kidney Injury:

Acute kidney injury can result from a myriad of underlying causes, ranging from medical conditions to external factors. Recognizing these causes is crucial for both prevention and effective treatment.

  • Dehydration:

Inadequate fluid intake or excessive fluid loss due to vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating can lead to dehydration, compromising kidney function. Dehydration is a common cause of AKI, particularly in vulnerable populations.

  • Medications:

Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, and some diuretics, can cause kidney damage if not used cautiously. Monitoring medication intake and consulting healthcare professionals are essential to prevent drug-induced AKI.

  • Infections:

Severe infections, particularly those affecting the kidneys directly (such as urinary tract infections), can lead to acute kidney injury. Timely treatment of infections is crucial to prevent complications.

  • Circulatory Issues:

Conditions that affect blood flow to the kidneys, such as heart failure or severe blood loss, can contribute to AKI. Adequate circulation is essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the kidneys.

  • Trauma:

Physical injuries, accidents, or trauma can directly impact the kidneys, leading to acute chronic kidney injury. Prompt medical attention is vital in such cases to mitigate the damage.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Kidney Injury:

Recognizing the acute kidney damage symptoms is pivotal for early intervention. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition’s progression and improve outcomes.

  • Changes in Urination:

Patients may notice changes in the frequency and volume of urine. A decrease in urine output or, conversely, an increase in urine output (polyuria) can be indicative of AKI.

  • Fluid Retention:

Fluid retention in the body, leading to swelling in the legs, ankles, or face, is a common symptom of acute kidney injury. This is a consequence of the kidneys’ inability to regulate fluid balance properly.

  • Fatigue and Weakness:

As kidney function declines, toxins and waste products accumulate in the bloodstream, causing fatigue and weakness. Anaemia, a common complication of AKI, can exacerbate these symptoms.

  • Shortness of Breath:

Accumulation of fluid in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema, can result in difficulty breathing. This symptom requires immediate medical attention and is considered one of the important acute kidney damage symptoms.

  • Confusion and Altered Mental Status:

Impaired kidney function can lead to the buildup of toxins in the blood, affecting brain function. Confusion, disorientation, and altered mental status may manifest in severe cases and may lead to acute kidney injury failure.


Acute Kidney Injury is a complex and potentially life-threatening condition that demands careful attention to its stages, causes, and signs. Recognizing the risk factors, understanding the stages of AKI, and being vigilant about its symptoms are crucial steps in ensuring early diagnosis and intervention.

By addressing acute kidney injury promptly and comprehensively, healthcare professionals can mitigate the impact on kidney function, improve patient outcomes, and pave the way for effective long-term management. If you are also seeking such treatment, do contact

Dr.  Dushyant Pawar is one of the top urologists in Ahmedabad. He is currently working at Shivanta Multispeciality Hospital as a Laparoscopy surgeon and a prostate cancer specialist. He is renowned for his prolonged practice in kidney cancer treatment, and prostate surgery.

How does acute kidney injury occur Stages, Causes, Signs and Symptoms


Q: What are the stages of acute kidney injury?

A: AKI progresses through three stages: prerenal (reduced blood flow), intrarenal (kidney damage), and postrenal (urinary tract obstruction).

Q: Is acute kidney injury reversible?

A: In many cases, with prompt treatment and addressing the underlying cause, AKI can be reversible. However, severe or prolonged cases may lead to chronic kidney disease.

Q: How can one support kidney health to prevent AKI?

A: Hydration, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding excessive use of medications known to stress the kidneys can help maintain kidney health and reduce AKI risk.

Q: Can AKI occur suddenly without warning signs?

A: Sometimes AKI can develop rapidly without obvious symptoms, especially in cases like severe infections or trauma. Regular health check-ups aid in early detection.

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