Acute kidney injury (AKI) usually happens when your kidneys are damaged suddenly. The damage that leads to AKI may be caused by:

  • Not enough blood flowing through your kidneys
  • An injury directly to your kidneys or a problem with your kidneys
  • A blockage in your ureters, the tubes that take urine from your kidneys to your bladder

Some examples of problems that can cause you to have too little blood flowing through your kidneys are:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Bleeding too much
  • Having severe diarrhea
  • Heart disease or heart attack
  • Infection
  • Liver failure
  • Using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Serious burns
  • Being very dehydrated (not having enough fluid in your body)
  • Severe allergic reaction

Some examples of problems that can cause direct damage to your kidneys are:

  • Blood clots in or around the kidneys
  • Diseases that affect the kidneys, such as glomerulonephritis and lupus
  • Infection
  • Certain medicines, such as some chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics and contrast dyes used during CT scans, MRI scans and other imaging tests
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Some blood or blood vessel disorders

Some examples of problems that could cause a blockage in your urinary tract are:

  • Some cancers
  • Blood clots in or around the kidneys
  • Kidney stones
  • Bladder problems
  • Enlarged prostate (in men)