Photo Credit: Courtesy Mariah Carey/twitter.com
Nick Cannon was admitted to an Aspen hospital earlier this week with what his wife Mariah Carey is calling "mild kidney failure." Cannon was then transferred to a Los Angeles hospital for treatment. With Carey taking to Twitter to ask for prayers and admitting Cannon is in pain, fans are left wondering, what exactly is mild kidney failure?
"Kidney failure is a broad term that implies that the kidneys are not working at their optimal level," says David P. Pryor M.D., West Coast Medical Director for NBCUniversal. Kidney failure is actually called acute renal failure or injury and it means that the kidneys suddenly stop working. Our kidneys are the waste management system of the body -- they process out toxins and waste through the urine and maintain balanced levels of water, salt and electrolytes in the blood. If that process stops working, those toxins get backed up into the body, which can ultimately be fatal (end-stage renal failure).
"I explain kidney disease to my patients like this," says Dr. Pryor: "There is acute renal failure (or injury) versus chronic renal failure. In the case of Nick Cannon, who is an apparently healthy young man, kidney failure came on suddenly so we would classify it as an acute injury." Carey's use of the word "mild" to describe Cannon's diagnosis, says Pryor, "implies that his kidneys are functioning but at less than 100 percent." Acute renal failure is usually reversible whereas chronic renal failure happens over the long-term, usually to people who suffer from chronic conditions that can damage the kidneys, like diabetes or hypertension.
What brings on kidney failure?
What could have caused a seemingly healthy 31-year-old man to suffer from kidney failure? We don't know what lead to Cannon's kidney problems, but it could be one of four main causes:
- A significant drop in blood flow to the kidneys caused by injury
- A blockage that stops urine from leaving the kidneys
- Severe side effects from medications including antibiotics, pain killers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, and blood pressure drugs.
- Infection or inflammation in the kidney
How is it treated?
Cannon will likely see a kidney specialist who will determine what's causing his kidneys to shut down and then treat the problem to get everything back in working order. Treatments can include several days of intravenous fluid hydration, a change in medications, removing a blockage (if that's the case) or even dialysis to flush out the built-up toxins in the body. The good news is that since acute kidney failure usually gets better after treatment, kidney function can return to normal. Hopefully, this will be the case for Nick so he can get back to his family and career soon!