Exciting news! CURA4U is now offering online urgent care consultations in 50+ states across USA. Click here to learn more!
For Physicians
Sign Up 0    

The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Kidney Disease

May 17, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

What Does Your Kidney Do For You?

A better question would be: What doesn’t it do?

Kidneys are the body’s major excretory organ, adhesins. They’re also responsible for the production and adequate maturation of Red Blood Cells (RBCs).

Anything deemed appropriate for the body will be filtered back, and whatever the kidneys identify as harmful will be secreted. Kidneys, therefore, regulate the body’s internal environment.

Kidney Diseases - The Difference

Most people are under the assumption that the most acceptable form of treatment for any kidney disease would be dialysis. However, this is true only for end-stage kidney diseases - wherein the body’s organs fall by 10-15% of their working capacities.

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)

Formerly known as Acute Kidney Disease (AKD), Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) is a form of kidney disease triggered by ‘events.’ For example, by injury, medication, wounds, infection, etc.

AKI is often symptomatic, with patients complaining of mental confusion, lethargy, and nausea. However, a few people might be asymptomatic, and lab tests would be required to diagnose them.

This form of kidney disease takes on a quick outline: Serum creatinine increases by 0.3% within the first 48 hours of the event, Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) also increases, and the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) rapidly decreases within hours to days.

AKI is often diagnosed early on and therefore treated just as quickly. First, your physician would identify the underlying event that caused the injury and work towards eliminating it. For example, if AKI developed due to tubular ischemia, the physician would try to remove the obstruction laparoscopically.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Compared to AKI, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) develops over three months and is triggered by ‘conditions’ rather than events. For example, CKD might be a manifestation of diabetes, hypertension, or polycystic kidney disease.

Patients are usually asymptomatic when the disease progresses and are usually only diagnosed at the end stages of the disease. Why? Because an asymptomatic patient won’t be intuitive enough to go to a doctor for a renal exam.

CKD is therefore identified as an incidental finding. However, the physician usually orders renal biopsies and serum creatinine tests if they determine a general condition that leads to CKD.

Albuminuria, urine casts, imaging findings, or abnormal renal biopsy characterize kidney damage. Kidney damage is either assessed with radiographs or with renal biopsies. Another indication is the GFR - Decreased glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 for at least three months.

Serum Creatinine Tests

Remember that one in three people in the United States risks developing kidney disease. Tests for AKI are usually undertaken immediately because of the manifestation of symptoms, but those for CKD are far less obvious.

Your physician would suggest a Creatinine Urine Test get your kidneys checked right and on time. Creatinine is the chemical compound formed after energy-producing processes in the muscles.

Healthy kidneys can filter Creatinine out of the blood. As a result, Creatinine is excreted in the urine.

Consult a Physician

The best action would be to routinely follow up with your primary care physician and have them assess your kidneys how they see fit. For example, they might require a history of medication (several drugs are nephrotoxic) or correlate symptoms with diseases.

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr. Saad Zia on May 11th, 2023.

Recommended Tests

Recommended physicians