advertisement
02 December 2008

The effect of kidney failure on the brain and nervous system

When kidneys fail to fulfill their function, it affects the brain and nervous system.

0
Uremia
Kidneys normally remove extra water and wastes from you blood. If they fail, blood levels of urea increase. Urea is toxic to the body and can affect all the major organs including the brain. Symptoms usually only appear when kidney function falls to less than 10 percent of normal. It precedes uremic coma and causes disorders of memory, thinking, speech, perception, emotions and other neurological manifestations.

Dialysis
When urea is removed from the blood too quickly during dialysis, a net movement of fluid into the brain seems to occur. This is quite rare and causes headache, double vision, nausea and vomiting. Tremors and seizures may follow.

Dialysis dementia is a progressive disease found in some patients on long-term haemodialysis. The cause of this disease is still controversial, but thought to be due to the deposition of aluminum in the brains of those patients. In order to avoid this complication the water used for dialysis is purified by a process called reverse osmosis. The intake of aluminum-containing phosphate binders is also limited.

Written by Dr K. Coetzee, reviewed by Dr R. Moosa, head of the Renal Unit, Tygerberg Academic Hospital.

Read more:
Incontinence, Urinary
Healthy toilet habits

National Kidney Foundation

 
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Get rid of lice! »

Toddler dies after DIY lice treatment Back-to-school head lice Comb out head lice

20 head lice myths debunked

Head lice are tiny, wingless insects that live in human hair. They cannot fly, jump or swim and are spread by head-to-head contact. Check out this infographic to learn more.

About gout »

Treatment of Gout Signs and symptoms of gout What is Gout?

Is your diet causing gout?

Suffering from gout? There's a lot you can do to prevent this horribly painful condition. Start by cutting out these 14 foods.