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Q: What is the difference between acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure?

A:

Healthy kidneys filter toxins and excess fluid out of the blood. In addition, they also help control blood pressure, produce red blood cells and control calcium absorption. When kidneys stop performing these functions, a person is in kidney failure. The two types of kidney failure, acute and chronic, are outlined below:

  • Acute kidney failure occurs suddenly and is often reversible. Causes include an accident, wound, disease, infection, shock or ingestion of a poison or a drug. When the kidneys are damaged, they stop producing urine. Poisons build up in the bloodstream, leaving the patient confused or unconscious and overloaded with fluids. Patients experiencing acute kidney failure are placed on a special diet, fluid restrictions and temporarily dialysis until their kidneys heal. With treatment, kidney function may return to normal.
  • Chronic kidney failure develops over a long period and is generally not reversible. Once the disease has progressed and kidney function is down to 10% - 15%, dialysis is usually required. Dialysis performs some of the functions of healthy kidneys but is not a cure for kidney disease. Generally, the patient will need to have dialysis for the rest of his or her life or receive a kidney transplant.


Acute kidney failure comes on quickly and is often curable. Chronic kidney failure, on the other hand, comes on slowly and generally leads to long-term dialysis. Many patients receiving dialysis between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2012, suffered serious and unnecessary harm. Two dialysis products used during that time period contained misleading product labeling. These products, GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, have been recalled by Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMC). Serious heart attacks, cardiac injuries, cardiac arrest and death have resulted from these mislabeled solutions.

If you or a loved one suffered adverse effects from hemodialysis treatment using GranuFlo or NaturaLyte, we can help. Contact a Harrisburg GranuFlo kidney dialysis attorney at 888-476-0807 for a free case review.