Sepsis Can Cause Kidney Damage – and Vice Versa

February 25, 2019

sepsis, kidney
Most of us are born with two kidneys, but many people live healthy, long lives with only one. One healthy kidney can filter toxins from your blood and help produce urine so you eliminate the toxins. The fist-sized bean-shaped organs also play other roles, like balancing the amount of fluid in your body, and producing hormones to stimulate red blood cell production and to regulate your blood pressure. So, if neither kidney works properly, the situation can become life-threatening. March is National Kidney Month and March 14 is World Kidney Day, a time to learn about our kidneys and our health.

Life with kidney disease can be devastating. Chronic kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death around the world. And acute kidney injury – a sudden and temporary loss of kidney function – can have serious long-term consequences. Sepsis is one of the most common causes of acute kidney injury. For most, temporary dialysis in the ICU is enough to help their body heal and the kidneys to resume working. But for some, the damage is too severe and the kidneys stop working effectively.

sepsis, kidney
Angelica Hale

People who develop kidney failure can be treated with dialysis, an artificial means of filtering your blood. But dialysis isn’t a cure and the longer you are on dialysis, the weaker your body becomes. This is why there is such a need for kidney transplants. Sepsis Celebrity Advocate Angelica Hale knows this all too well. When she was 4 years old, she developed sepsis from pneumonia. Although she survived sepsis, her kidneys failed. But Angelica was one of the lucky ones. Her mother was a match and she donated a kidney to Angelica, who is now healthy and using her voice to spread awareness of kidney disease and sepsis.

The focus for World Kidney Day 2019 is “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.” According to, 10% of the world’s population is affected with chronic kidney disease and although it can affect anyone, it is more common among older people and more women than men develop it. Risks for chronic kidney disease include:

  • Having diabetes and/or high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Having a family history of chronic kidney disease
  • Being over 50 years old
  • Being of African, Hispanic, Aboriginal, or Asian origin

You can also increase your risk of kidney infections or damage by not drinking enough fluids, ignoring signs of bladder or urinary tract infections, or overusing some over-the-counter medications or supplements. If you must take OTC products, speak with your pharmacist or your doctor to ensure the products are right for you.

We take our kidneys for granted, but when they don’t work properly, it can have a significant impact on our health. Learn more about kidney health at the National Kidney Foundation and connections between kidney issues and sepsis at Sepsis and Kidney Stones and Sepsis and Kidney Transplants.