Symptoms of Kidney Disease

The beginning stages of kidney disease are hard to diagnose and early signs are understated. It can take years to go from the beginning stages of chronic kidney disease or CKD to actual kidney failure. Yet those with stage 3 CKD have an 80% chance of never having kidney failure. It has been suggested that the 20% who die from kidney failure can be treated if they know what to look for. If you or someone you know has one or more symptoms of kidney disease, seek medical treatment. Any suspicion of kidney disease should be discussed with your physician. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

10 Symptoms

  • Urination issues. Kidneys make urine so failure or disease can change your urination patterns. If you find that you are getting up many times during the night to urinate, your urine is foamy, or you urinate more often, make a doctor appointment. Pale urine can also indicate a kidney problem. You may also have the beginnings of kidney disease if you urinate less often or if your urine is dark or contains blood. If you have pressure or difficulty urinating, consider having your kidney”s checked.
  • Swelling. Excess swelling in your legs, feet, ankles, face and or hands can indicate kidney issues. Failing kidneys are not able to remove extra fluid causing water retention.
  • Fatigue. Diseased kidneys are not able to produce a hormone known as erythropoietin. This hormone tells your body to manufacture oxygen carrying red blood cells. Without sufficient supplies of erythropoietin your brain and muscles tire quickly. This is also called anemia and can be treated with medications.
  • Skin Rashes/Itching. The kidneys are responsible to remove wastes from the bloodstream. When your kidneys are in failure the build-up of wastes in your blood bring on itching.
  • Vomiting and Nausea. With a severe build-up of wastes in your blood or uremia, you may experience nausea and vomiting. A severe loss of appetite will also lead to weight loss. With vomiting it can be very difficult to take medications. The underlying kidney disease may cause other health problems.
  • Feeling cold. If your blood is filled with wastes you will feel cold all the time.
  • Ammonia Breath/Metallic Tastes in Mouth. Wastes in the blood make food taste different and cause bad breath. With kidney disease you may also find you do not like to eat meat and often just looking at food is nauseating. Severe weight loss can be the result of not wanting to eat.
  • Shortness of breath. If you cannot catch your breath you may have a kidney problem. Shortness of breath is caused from extra fluid building up in the lungs. You may also experience a shortage of oxygen carrying red blood cells. This shortage leaves your body starved for oxygen.
  • Dizziness/Trouble Concentrating. Anemia that is related to kidney failure is an indication your brain is oxygen starved. This leads to memory problems, dizziness and trouble concentrating, reading and thinking.
  • Leg Pain. Leg pain is generally not associated with kidney disease but you may have pain in the upper back where the kidneys are located and this translates down the nerves in your legs.  

If you are feeling pain, you may have polycystic kidney disease (PKD) that is characterized by fluid filled cysts on the kidneys and liver. Kidney infections and kidney stones can contribute to severe pain. Bladder infections burn when you urinate. If you have medullary sponge kidney, it is painful.

Years ago if you had kidney disease your quality and longevity of life was short. Now with excellent dialysis machines and medical knowledge your quality of life with CKD depends on your age, health and how involved you are in your care. Those with early CKD have a good chance of never having kidney failure. Better drugs, knowledge on how kidney failure begins and is treated plus better diets contribute to a good chance of remaining healthy even with CKD.


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