HRS can occur in patients in the final stage of chronic liver disease and causes the kidneys to stop working despite a lack of identifiable dysfunction or structural damage. Doctors and liver specialists classify HRS into two types based on their rate of progression. Type I progresses rapidly and leads to renal failure, which causes the kidneys to shut down. As kidneys remove waste from the body, renal failure leads waste and other toxins to build up, posing dangerous risks. Type II progresses more slowly over the course of weeks or months and produces more subtle symptoms.
The condition causes symptoms of mental confusion, muscle jerks, nausea and vomiting, in addition to those associated with liver disease. Accompanying liver disease symptoms include yellowing of the skin, called jaundice, dark-colored urine, and abdominal swelling due to ascites fluid.
With a median survival rate of six months for Type I HRS, the condition leads to death if not treated. Though medications and dialysis can help with symptoms and filter waste from the body, liver transplant remains the most effective treatment.
Prevention of HRS begins by caring for the liver. Patients can avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and taking measures against contracting hepatitis.