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What is renal insufficiency?

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Renal insufficiency is a term for a condition where kidney function is reduced, MedlinePlus explains. It is also known as kidney disease, renal failure and kidney failure. The job of the kidneys is to remove metabolic wastes and excess water from the body. When renal insufficiency is chronic, it also is usually degenerative, and the kidneys lose more function over time. This degeneration can be very slow, however, and symptoms can be unnoticeable until the condition is very advanced.

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Many different diseases and conditions can lead to renal insufficiency, says MedlinePlus. Diseases that can lead to renal insufficiency include autoimmune disorders such as scleroderma and lupus, as well as congenital diseases such as polycystic kidney disease. Other conditions that can lead to renal insufficiency include exposure to certain toxic chemicals, the backward flow of urine into the kidneys or injuries to the kidney. Certain medications, such as cancer drugs and some painkillers, can also lead to renal insufficiency.

The buildup of wastes and fluid that renal insufficiency causes leads to other problems, including bone problems, low blood cell counts and high blood pressure, MedlinePlus explains. Early symptoms of renal insufficiency include fatigue, dry skin, unexplained weight loss, headaches and nausea. Later symptoms include bone pain, numbness in extremities, swelling, excessive thirst and changes in skin color.

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