Kidney disease is one of the most deadly silent killers. People often are not aware they have a problem until it becomes critical. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 26 million people in America suffer from some kind of kidney disease.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdominal cavity on either side of your spine, just above the waist. The kidneys are important for overall health, performing many vital functions in the body.
They help remove waste products, regulate production of red blood cells, release hormones that regulate blood pressure and help produce an active form of vitamin D needed for bone health.
They also help maintain a balance of water and concentration of minerals, such as sodium, potassium and phosphorus, in the blood.
Kidney function declines with age. However, certain factors put you at higher risk of kidney disease. These include family history, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.
Often, early kidney problems do not exhibit many prominent symptoms, hence it can be difficult to diagnose the disease. Awareness of possible symptoms can help reduce your chance of suffering from advanced kidney disease and further complications.
Here are the top 10 symptoms of kidney disease that you must know.
1. Changes in Urinary Function
The first symptom of kidney disease is a change in your urinary function. The change may be in the amount and frequency of the urine you pass. Other changes may include:
- Getting up at night a few times to urinate.
- Urge to urinate more often but not able to do so when using the restroom.
- Urine that is darker than usual.
- Urine that is foamy or bubbly.
- Urine that contains blood.
- Feeling pressure or having difficulty urinating.
- Pain or a burning sensation during urination.
2. Swelling in the Body
It’s the kidneys’ job to remove waste and extra liquid from the body. When this does not happen, the extra fluid and water buildup causes swelling. This can be in the hands, feet, ankle joints, face and under the eyes.
You may also notice dimpling of the skin after being pressed for a few seconds.
3. Severe Fatigue and Weakness
When the kidneys do not function properly, there is a high chance of feeling fatigued most of the time. You may feel tired, exhausted or generally lack energy without any known reason. Two common causes of these symptoms are anemia and accumulation of waste products in the body.
Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin that aids production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Damaged kidney make less of this hormone, eventually leading to a decreased red blood cell count.
Also, when the kidneys do not function properly, it’s harder for your body to get rid of harmful toxins and substances. This can lead to loss of appetite. Excess toxins in the body and loss of appetite make you less energetic.
If kidney disease causes anemia, you may suffer from frequent dizziness, which is a feeling of light-headedness, unsteadiness or loss of balance. This happens because anemia can prevent your brain from getting enough oxygen.
It can further cause memory problems, trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping.
If you are suffering from sudden dizziness and poor concentration, take it seriously and get a medical checkup.
5. Unexplained Back Pain
Unexplained aches and pains in the back as well as sides of your abdomen can be symptoms of undiagnosed kidney disease or kidney infections. When kidneys do not function properly, you may experience pain, stiffness and fluid in the joints.
Pain in the lower back and groin can also be caused by kidney stones in the urethra. Polycystic renal disease, an inherited kidney disorder, which causes fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys can cause pain in the lower back, side or abdomen.
If you experience severe cramping that spreads from the lower back into the groin, consult your doctor immediately.
6. Skin Breakouts and Itching
Sudden skin breakouts, rashes, irritation and excessive itching are also symptoms of some types of kidney conditions. Improper kidney functioning contributes to buildup of waste products and toxins in the body, leading to many skin problems.
Another effect of poor kidney functioning is an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which can lead to excessive itching.
If your otherwise healthy skin suddenly shows signs of breakouts, rashes and intense itching, see your doctor.
7. Ammonia Breath
Kidney disease can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth or ammonia breath. This happens because poor kidney functioning leads to an increase in the level of urea in the blood. Urea is broken down to ammonia in the saliva, thus causing urine-like bad breath known as ammonia breath.
It can also cause an undesirable metallic taste in the mouth, which can make food taste different.
8. Nausea or Vomiting
Nausea, vomiting and poor appetite are very common gastrointestinal symptoms among people suffering from kidney disease. Nausea and vomiting most often occur when you get up in the morning.
As the kidneys are not able to filter harmful toxins out of the blood, it leads to an accumulation of excessive urea nitrogen in the blood stream. This stimulates the gastrointestinal mucosa and causes nausea and vomiting.
If you are still experiencing nausea and vomiting after taking medicines and necessary preventive measures, consult a doctor before the condition becomes worse.
9. Feeling Cold Most of the Time
This is another symptom of anemia which could be caused by kidney disease. You may feel cold without any known reason, even when in a warm environment. At times, you may even have a fever with chills.
If you feel cold much of the time, along with dizziness and weakness, consult your doctor.
10. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can also be a sign of kidney disease. Improper kidney functioning leads to extra fluid buildup in the lungs. Shortness of breath can also be due to anemia caused by kidney problems.
In addition, a buildup of potassium in the blood that is not filtered out by the kidneys may cause abnormal heart rhythms.