Autoimmune disorders, reduced blood flow to the kidneys and serious infections are among the many possible causes of low kidney function, explains MedlinePlus. A person with chronic kidney disease loses kidney function slowly over time, while someone with acute kidney failure loses kidney function rapidly.
People with chronic kidney disease may not have any symptoms at first, states MedlinePlus. The disease worsens over time, resulting in a build-up of excess waste in the bloodstream. Causes of chronic kidney disease include exposure to toxic chemicals, birth defects affecting the kidneys, kidney stones, certain medications and problems with the arteries that supply the kidneys with blood.
Acute kidney failure results in a loss of kidney function within two days, reports MedlinePlus. Decreased blood flow caused by serious injuries, burns, dehydration, surgery and septic shock can cause this rapid decline in kidney function. Other causes of acute kidney failure include autoimmune kidney disease, urinary tract blockages, pregnancy complications, blood clots in the vessels that supply the kidneys and infections that cause kidney damage.
Someone who continues to lose kidney function eventually develops end-stage renal disease, according to Temple University Hospital. Complete kidney failure causes fluid and waste products to build up in the body, causing weakness, fatigue and swelling.