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Classification & external resources
ICD-10 R39.2
ICD-9 585-586, 788.9
DiseasesDB 26060
eMedicine med/2341 
MeSH D014511

Uremia is a term used to loosely describe the illness accompanying kidney failure (also called renal failure). 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. It is usually diagnosed in kidney dialysis patients when the glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function, is below 50% of normal.[1]

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 fibrinous 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/oestrogen) and bones (osteoperosis and metastatic calcifications).


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
  • dehydration


  1. ^ Meyer TW and Hostetter, TH (2007). "Uremia". N Engl J Med 357 (13): 1316. PMID 17898101. Full text.

See also

  • Azotemia
  • Nephrology
  • Renal failure
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Uremia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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