Uremia Classification and external resources
ICD-10 N19, R39.2 ICD-9 585-586, 788.9 DiseasesDB 26060 eMedicine med/2341 MeSH D014511
Uremia or uraemia (see spelling differences) is a term used to loosely describe the illness accompanying kidney failure (also called renal failure), in particular the nitrogenous waste products associated with the failure of this organ.
In kidney failure, urea and other waste products, which are normally excreted into the urine, are retained in the blood. Early symptoms include anorexia and lethargy, and late symptoms can include decreased mental acuity and coma. Other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, cold, bone pain, itch, shortness of breath, and seizures. It is usually diagnosed in kidney dialysis patients when the glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function, is below 50% of normal.
Azotemia is another word that refers to high levels of urea, but is used primarily when the abnormality can be measured chemically but is not yet so severe as to produce symptoms. Uremia can also result in uremic pericarditis. There are many dysfunctions caused by uremia affecting many systems of the body, such as blood (lower levels of erythropoietin), sex (lower levels of testosterone/estrogen), and bones (osteoporosis and metastatic calcifications). Uremia can also cause decreased peripheral conversion of T4 to T3, producing a functionally hypothyroid state.
Physical signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings
Neural and muscular
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Decreased mental acuity
- Decreased taste and smell
- Restless legs, potentially due to decreased muscle membrane potential
- Sleep disturbance
Endocrine and metabolic
- Sexual dysfunction
- Reduced body temperature
- Altered levels of amino acids
- Bone disease by hyperphosphatemia, hyperparathyroidism and vitamin D deficiency
- Reduced basal metabolic rate
- Insulin resistance
- Increased muscle protein catabolism
- Serositis, including pericarditis
- Oxidative stress
- granulocyte and lymphocyte dysfunction
- Platelet dysfunction
Because uremia mostly is a consequence of kidney failure, its signs and symptoms often occur concomitantly with other ones signs and symptoms of kidney failure, such as hypertension due to volume overload, hypocalcemic tetany, and anemia due to erythropoietin deficiency. These, however, are not signs or symptoms of uremia. Still, it is not certain that the symptoms currently associated with uremia actually are caused by excess urea, as one study showed that uremic symptoms were relieved by initiation of dialysis, even when urea was added to the dialysate to maintain the blood urea nitrogen level at approximately 90 mg per deciliter (that is, approximately 32 mmol per liter).
Condition Prothrombin time Partial thromboplastin time Bleeding time Platelet count Vitamin K deficiency or warfarin prolonged normal or mildly prolonged unaffected unaffected Disseminated intravascular coagulation prolonged prolonged prolonged decreased von Willebrand disease unaffected prolonged prolonged unaffected Hemophilia unaffected prolonged unaffected unaffected Aspirin unaffected unaffected prolonged unaffected Thrombocytopenia unaffected unaffected prolonged decreased Liver failure, early prolonged unaffected unaffected unaffected Liver failure, end-stage prolonged prolonged prolonged decreased Uremia unaffected unaffected prolonged unaffected Congenital afibrinogenemia prolonged prolonged prolonged unaffected Factor V deficiency prolonged prolonged unaffected unaffected Factor X deficiency as seen in amyloid purpura prolonged prolonged unaffected unaffected Glanzmann's thrombasthenia unaffected unaffected prolonged unaffected Bernard-Soulier syndrome unaffected unaffected prolonged decreased or unaffected
Besides renal failure, the level of urea in the blood can also be increased by:
- increased production of urea in the liver, due to:
- high protein diet
- increased protein breakdown (surgery, infection, trauma, cancer)
- gastrointestinal bleeding
- drugs (e.g. tetracyclines and corticosteroids)
- decreased elimination of urea, due to:
- decreased blood flow through kidney (e.g. hypotension, cardiac failure)
- urinary outflow obstruction
- bladder rupture
- chronic infection of the kidney such as chronic pyelonephritis
- ^ "uremia" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
- ^ Meyer TW and Hostetter, TH (2007). "Uremia". N Engl J Med 357 (13): 1316–25. doi:10.1056/NEJMra071313. PMID 17898101.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Meyer, T. W.; Hostetter, T. H. (2007). "Uremia". New England Journal of Medicine 357 (13): 1316–1325. doi:10.1056/NEJMra071313. PMID 17898101. 
Urinary system · Pathology · Urologic disease / Uropathy (N00–N39, 580–599) AbdominalGlomerulopathy/
nephroticBy conditionType III RPG/Pauci-immuneTubulopathy/
tubulitisAny/allAny/allGeneral syndromesRenal failure (Acute renal failure, Chronic renal failure) · Uremic pericarditis · UremiaOtherUreter
PelvicUrethra Any/all Symptoms and signs: urinary system (R30–R39, 788) Pain Control Volume Other urination disorders
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