Kidney failure may develop without symptoms in some individuals, or it may progress so slowly that it goes unnoticed until it becomes acute, according to MedlinePlus. It can be difficult to recognize in early stages, even when symptomatic, because the symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses.
Early kidney disease symptoms, if present, include fatigue, nausea, appetite loss, headaches and dry skin, according to MedlinePlus. Acute kidney failure may be characterized by symptoms such as excessive thirst, abnormally light or dark skin, numbness of extremities, muscle twitching, drowsiness or breath odor, among others. A doctor can determine kidney function accurately with a blood or urine test.
Acute kidney failure results from slow blood flow to the kidneys, damage to the kidneys, or blockage of the kidneys' urine drainage tubes, states Mayo Clinic. There are a number of illnesses and conditions that may result in damage, slow blood flow or blockage, including liver failure, heart disease, dehydration and infection. The key to treatment lies in determining the underlying cause.
The duration and severity of acute kidney failure depend on the primary cause, reports MedicineNet. In some cases, treatment may return the kidneys to full function. In other cases, irreversible damage may require dialysis or kidney transplant.