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Nick Cannon's 'Mild Kidney Failure': What Is It?

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UPDATE: Mariah Carey tweeted that Nick Cannon is in stable condition and will hopefully be discharged from the hospital in the next couple of days.

UPDATE: Nick Cannon has been moved from Aspen, Colo., to a Los Angeles hospital, CBS News reported.

The 31-year-old tweeted: "Currently being transfered to a hospital in LA. Thank you all for all your love, prayers and concern. You know me... I will be a'ight"

* * *

Mariah Carey recently announced that her husband, "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon, is hospitalized in Aspen, Colo., with mild kidney failure.

Carey tweeted this morning: "Please pray for Nick as he's fighting to recover from a mild kidney failure. #mybraveman"

However, the term "mild kidney failure" doesn't exist in medical terminology; rather, Carey might have meant to say Cannon has a condition called acute kidney injury (also known as acute kidney failure), said Dr. Bryan Becker, the National Kidney Foundation's immediate past president and assistant vice president of health affairs at the University of Illinois, who has no connection to Cannon's case.

The kidneys' job is to remove waste and excess fluid via the urine, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The kidneys also regulate levels of salt, potassium and acid in the body, as well as produce hormones that spur the production of red blood cells. (For more information on kidney disease, click over to kidney.org.)

Acute kidney injury occurs when the kidneys stop functioning properly, thereby allowing fluids, waste and electrolytes to store up in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can be diagnosed by an elevated level of serum creatinine, a blood measurement.

"We would look at acute kidney injury as that acute serum creatinine being twice what it would normally be. ... So as a rough estimate, it's probably between 1 and 1.5 normally. So if it's 2 to 3, then that would be significant injury," Becker said. "And yet, people may not need dialysis, they may just need to be watched and can show improvement on their own -- and that may be what's happening right now. It's just tough to tell."

Depending on the case, treatments for acute kidney injury may include treating the underlying issue that caused the kidney condition in the first place (for example, stopping medication if medication is causing the kidney issue, or re-hydrating a person if he or she is dehydrated), Becker said.

A hospital stay is usually required for someone with acute kidney injury, where doctors may replenish fluids in the blood using intravenous fluids, or prescribe medicine to keep potassium from building up in the blood (since the kidneys aren't properly filtering the potassium) or to restore calcium in the blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dialysis is also an option if toxins need to be removed from the blood.

"If it's acute [kidney injury] and people recover, then they should be pretty much back to their normal circumstances once they recover," Becker said. "I can't tell whether [Cannon's] needed dialysis and I can't tell how serious it is ... but the use of the word 'mild' would suggest to me that someone noticed the numbers were not normal, and was taking a precaution that there is some kidney injury associated with whatever reason he was hospitalized for, and wanted to make sure it doesn't get worse."

While there is little information as to what spurred Cannon's kidney condition, Becker speculated that it could have been caused by a general illness that then affected his kidney function, or it could be related to medication he was taking. In addition, because Cannon and Carey are in Colorado, it's possible that the weather and atmosphere there played a part -- "he could be more dehydrated than normal," he speculated.

Click through the slideshow to read well wishes for Cannon from around the Twitterverse:

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