Kidney Disease Symptoms and Early Warning Signs

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If you want to maintain kidney health and prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD), you must learn to look out for the kidney disease warning signs and get prompt treatment.

As soon as you notice the symptoms of kidney problems, it is advisable to see a doctor and opt for blood and urine tests.

Over 37 million American adults are suffering from kidney disease and are not even aware of it. Kidney disease means that kidneys have started failing and are unable to perform their functions.

Related: Lifestyle Changes for Keeping Kidneys in Healthy Shape

What do kidneys do? Kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from the blood, which are then secreted in the form of urine. Due to malfunctioning of the kidneys, wastes build up in the body.

During the early stages of kidney disease, there are very few symptoms. Here are some of the top kidney failure early signs.

Kidney Disease Symptoms

Kidney Disease Symptoms and Warning Signs

  1. Poor Appetite

This is a very general symptom that could arise from so many health problems but is also one of the prominent kidney disease early signs.

  • If you regularly suffer from poor appetite, it could be due to the buildup of toxins in the body.
  • This happens due to the reducing function of the kidney to eliminate waste.
  • Dietary intake of patients with chronic kidney disease reduces as they progress towards ESRD or end stage renal disease. This is due to nausea and anorexia, which means a loss of appetite.

Related: Kidney Stone Diet: Best Food To Eat When You Have Kidney Stones

  1. Tiredness/Fatigue

Fatigue is commonly experienced among people with advanced kidney disease and is among the important kidney problems early signs.

  • Extreme and persistent tiredness, weakness and physical and mental exhaustion are symptoms that could point to kidney disease.
  • Kidneys help regulate the production of red blood cells and a malfunction could cause anemia, which results in tiredness.
  • Two of the hallmarks   of anemia in kidney disease  are fatigue  and feeling cold.

You may not even know that you have anemia until you take a blood test, so make sure that you see your doctor!

However, fatigue is a multidimensional problem and could be caused by any number of factors. Fatigue should not always be seen as a symptom of kidney disease.

  1. Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps, and especially leg cramps are also among the warning signs of kidney disease.

  • When kidneys are damaged, there is an imbalance in the fluids and electrolytes in the body, leading to muscle cramps.
  • It could happen because you are not able to get all the excess fluid from the body or it could be due to problem with the blood salts.
  • Apart from legs, you could also experience cramps in hands, arms and abdomen, as a result of problems with kidney function.

Check Out: 15 Best Foods for Kidney Repair: Healthy Kidney Tips

  1. Itching/Rashes

When kidneys stop functioning, it could lead to skin problems like itching, making it an important part of kidney disease symptoms.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease
  • Kidneys eliminate waste from the bloodstream. When they fail in this function, wastes build up in the blood leading to severe itching.
  • It can also be caused due to the rise in PTH or phosphorus, leading to itchy skin.

Doctors usually prescribe phosphate binders that can help bring the blood level back to normal range.

  • Uremic frost, which is crystallized urea deposited on the skin also causes itching skin in those with kidney problems. This is because high levels of urea are secreted by the sweat glands of the skin, among those with kidney failure. When the water evaporates, the remaining urea crystallizes on the skin.
  1. Sleep Disorders

This is one of the top symptoms of kidney disease.

  • In addition to insomnia, excessive sleepiness and restless leg problems with limb movements during sleep are also pointers to kidney problems.
  • Sleep apnea, which means you stop breathing during sleep, is also a sign of kidney disease.

Look out for episodes of sudden awakening with shortness of breath or awakening with dryness of mouth, sore throat etc.

  1. Urine Disorders

Urine disorders could also be kidney damage early signs.

  • When the kidneys fail in their functions, they are not able to regulate fluids and electrolytes in order to eliminate waste products from your body. The production of RBC also decreases.
  • When the blood supply to the kidneys is reduced, it leads to reduced urine output. It could lead to chronic renal failure over time.
  • Other urine related symptoms include blood in urine; dark urine; frequent urination, especially at night.

See: Kidney Cleansing: Home Remedy to Detox Your Kidneys Naturally

  1. Memory Problems

Memory related problems are experienced by those with kidney disease. They include:

  • Memory loss due to CKD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Confusion

These could be caused due to the changes resulting from kidney disease. The buildup of waste products in the body could cause irritability and mood changes.

  1. Swelling

Edema can affect any part of your body, but it is more common in the hands, arms, feet and legs as also a puffiness in the face. It is considered one of the early signs of kidney disease.

early signs of kidney disease
  • If your eyes are constantly puffy, especially in the morning, take care, as it is one of the prominent physical signs of kidney disease.
  • If you have swelling in the hands, feet, ankles or legs, it could be due to kidney failure. Kidneys filter the blood wastes and eliminate excess water in the form of urine. When they are not performing their job, the fluid remains in the system without being excreted and leads to swelling.

Read: Kidney Disease Diet: Foods To Avoid If You Have Kidney Problem

Chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Wrap Up – Kidney Problems Early Signs

These are some of the symptoms of kidney disease. However, the signs could also be caused by other illnesses.

In many cases, the symptoms might not appear till the damage to the kidneys has become irreversible, as the kidneys are highly adaptable and can compensate for a lost function. If you see any of these early signs, make an appointment with your doctor.

There are some factors that can actually increase the risk of kidney disease:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Old age

It can also lead to other complications like pulmonary edema, hyperkalemia and cardiovascular diseases. Take proper steps when you see the kidney problems warning signs and manage the condition with the help of your doctor.

Learning more about kidney disease symptoms and taking control over them can help keep kidneys in good health so that you can lead a good quality of life.

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