Uremia

Topic Overview

Uremia (uremic syndrome) is a serious complication of chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury (also known as acute renal failure). It occurs when urea and other waste products build up in the body because the kidneys are unable to eliminate them. These substances can become poisonous (toxic) to the body if they reach high levels.

Prolonged or severe fluid buildup (edema) may make the uremic syndrome worse.

Uremic syndrome may affect any part of the body and can cause:

  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Changes in mental status, such as confusion, reduced awareness, agitation, psychosis, seizures, and coma.
  • Abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding spontaneously or profusely from a very minor injury.
  • Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat, inflammation in the sac that surrounds the heart (pericarditis), and increased pressure on the heart.
  • Shortness of breath from fluid buildup in the space between the lungs and the chest wall (pleural effusion).

Kidney dialysis is usually needed to relieve the symptoms of uremic syndrome until normal kidney function can be restored.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Tushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology
Current as of August 29, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Additional Resources

First Nurse

  • First Nurse: Talk to one of our nurses 24 hours a day for free health care advice, resources and referrals! Call 515-239-6877 or 800-524-6877.
  • Health Library: Search our online library containing information on health conditions, medications, medical tests, and more.

Symptom Checker

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker