Understanding Renal Failure

  • Health Insurance

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Do you know the three golden rules to stay healthy in life? Well, let us introduce you to them.

  • The first is to eat healthy.
  • The second is to exercise regularly.
  • The third is to get adequate sleep.

It's safe to say that if you pay attention to your food, exercise and sleep, you can remain relatively healthy and free of illness for the most part. But sometimes, an illness or a disease may develop in your body despite leading a healthy lifestyle. At such junctures, you may be overwhelmed by the medical terms and jargon that your doctor or your physician may be referring to. One such term that is often quite confusing to the layman is 'renal failure.'

You may have heard of the term before. And you may even have a rough idea of what it could be. Nevertheless, let's get down to the basics and understand what renal failure is.

What is renal failure?

Simply put, renal failure means kidney failure. It occurs when one or both of your kidneys are unable to function fully on their own. The primary job of the kidneys is to filter out the waste products and toxins in the bloodstream in the form of urine. Apart from this, your kidneys also play an important role in making the hormones that control your red blood cells and your blood pressure.

If you suffer from renal failure, one or both of your kidneys will no longer be able to do these roles properly. Kidney failure is one of the most common kinds of kidney diseases. And it can be any one of two types –

  • Acute kidney failure:

    Acute kidney failure or acute renal failure occurs when your kidneys suddenly lose the ability to filter the waste in your body. This kind of kidney disease can be fatal, because the levels of toxic and waste products in your bloodstream may see a sudden and steep rise. Acute kidney failure is mainly seen in people who may be hospitalised with any other critical illness.
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD):

    CKD is a chronic condition that develops slowly, over many months. It is often medically described as a kidney abnormality or decreased kidney function that lasts for three months or more. In chronic kidney disease, the levels of toxic products and chemicals in your blood build up more slowly.

What causes renal failure?

Renal failure – particularly acute renal failure – may appear to develop overnight. But the truth is, it is one of those kidney diseases that is generally triggered because of other conditions or illnesses. Furthermore, the causes of acute kidney failure are generally different from the causes that lead to CKD.

Acute renal failure can be caused by any of the following factors –

  • Intense dehydration
  • Any obstruction or blockage in the urinary tract
  • Some potent medications
  • Autoimmune kidney diseases
  • Uncontrolled heart or liver disease

On the other hand, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) can be caused by any of the following conditions –

  • Uncontrolled blood sugar in diabetic patients
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Polycystic kidney disease, where fluid-filled sacs develop in the kidneys
  • Damage to any of the tiny filters in the kidneys because of lupus or other conditions

How is renal failure diagnosed?

Initially, any problems with your kidneys may cause some general symptoms. As time progresses, the symptoms may worsen. This is in case of chronic renal failure that develops over several weeks or months. Some of the common symptoms generally seen in such patients include the following –

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General tiredness and fatigue
  • Swelling around your ankles or in your arms
  • Muscle cramps
  • Frequent urination
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Reduced appetite

If your doctor suspects there may be something wrong with your kidneys, they may recommend the following tests to diagnose the problem.

  • Blood tests to check the build of waste in the bloodstream
  • Urine tests to measure that amount of protein or blood
  • Imaging techniques like ultrasound scans or CT scans to check for blockage or abnormalities in the kidneys

What are the treatment protocols for renal failure?

If renal failure has been diagnosed, there are primarily two different methods to treat the condition in modern medicine. Check out the treatment protocols below.

  • Dialysis

    Renal failure makes your kidneys incapable of removing the waste products from your bloodstream. Dialysis is a technique that uses a machine to remove the excess salt, acid, potassium and other waste products from your bloodstream.

    There are two types of dialysis –

    • Hemodialysis:

      This process is done 3 or 4 times each week. In hemodialysis, a tube is inserted into a vein in your neck or your leg. This procedure needs to be done in the hospital's outpatient department.
    • Peritoneal dialysis:

      In peritoneal dialysis, a tube is permanently fixed in the lining of your abdomen. This setup can be put together at the home of the patient too.
  • Kidney transplant

    A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure where a healthy kidney from a donor is used to replace the damaged kidney in the patient. The healthy kidney can be taken from a healthy donor who may be deceased, or from a living donor who may be a good match. It is possible for the human body to function well with just one healthy kidney.

The cost of treating renal failure

The cost of treating renal failure depends on the course of treatment recommended by your doctor. In case of dialysis, the expense is a recurring cost. Each session of dialysis in a private hospital may come up to around Rs. 2,000. In some hospitals, it may also go up to Rs. 3,000.[1] As for kidney transplants, the average cost may range from Rs. 7 lakhs to Rs. 10 lakhs.[2]

Along with these, there are other costs to account for, like consultation charges, hospitalisation costs, recovery and rehabilitation, and medication. Furthermore, there may also be health complications that could need treatment.

Planning ahead for these costs with critical illness insurance

Renal failure is classified as a critical illness. And while people with preexisting conditions like diabetes or hypertension may be at a higher risk, renal failure may develop for a number of reasons in anybody. So, it is always a good idea to have a financial protective shield in place well in advance.

A critical illness insurance plan is one such shield that can help you out in such tough times. It covers different stages of critical conditions like kidney failure. The ABSLI CritiShield Plan is one such plan. It covers both cardiac and renal failure. Further, both early and major stage renal issues are covered by the plan. Check out the benefits offered –

  • 30% of the sum assured in case of early stage renal conditions
  • 100% of the sum assured in case of major stage renal conditions

You can also choose the income benefit option to receive periodic payouts for recurring costs like dialysis. Having a critical illness cover like this in place will ensure that you don't have to tap into your savings or break your investments to pay for the steep unexpected medical bills.

Conclusion

To keep your kidneys healthy, drink plenty of water, maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. And if you suspect that you may be suffering from any of the symptoms of renal failure, make sure you visit a doctor and get the recommended tests done. And if you have a family history of conditions that can cause renal failure, it is a good idea to get a critical illness cover when you are young and healthy itself.

[1] https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/covid-19-impact-dialysis-turns-too-expensive-for-kidney-patients-as-costs-shoot-up-for-hospitals-5173101.html
[2] https://www.yashodahospitals.com/transplants/kidney-transplant.html#:~:text=The%20average%20cost%20of%20a,and%20post%2Dtransplant%20recovery%20period.
ABSLI CritiShield Plan(UIN: 109N104V02) is a traditional non participating health insurance plan.
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