Kidneys are the organs that help filter waste products from the blood. They are also involved in regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and red blood cell production in the body.
Most people with CKD have no symptoms because the body can tolerate even a large reduction in kidney function.
In other words, we are born with a lot more kidney function than is necessary for survival. Kidney function is often sufficient if only one kidney is working. That is why people can give a kidney to someone needing a kidney transplant.
At any stage of kidney disease, knowledge is power. Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease can help you get the treatment you need to feel your best. If you or someone you know has one or more of the following symptoms of CKD, or you worry about kidney problems, see a doctor for blood and urine tests. Remember, many of the symptoms can be caused by other health problems. The only way to know the cause of YOUR symptoms is to see your doctor.
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Symptom 1: Changes in Urination
Kidneys make urine, so when the kidneys are failing, the urine may change. How?
- You may have to get up at night to urinate.
- Urine may be foamy or bubbly.
- You may urinatemore often, or in greater amounts than usual, with pale urine.
- You may urinateless often, or in smaller amounts than usual, with dark-colored urine.
- Your urine may contain blood.
- You may feel pressure or have difficulty urinating.
Symptom 2: Swelling
Failing kidneys don’t remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, face, and/or hands.
Symptom 3: Fatigue
Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin (a-rith’-ro-po’-uh-tin), or EPO, that tells your body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less EPO. With fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen, your muscles and brain tire very quickly. This is anemia, and it can be treated.
Symptom 4: Skin Rash/Itching
Kidneys remove wastes from the bloodstream. When the kidneys fail, the build-up of wastes in your blood can cause severe itching.
Symptom 5: Metallic Taste in Mouth/Ammonia Breath
A build-up of wastes in the blood (called uremia) can make food taste different and cause bad breath. You may also notice that you stop liking to eat meat, or that you are losing weight because you just don’t feel like eating.
Symptom 6: Nausea and Vomiting
A severe build-up of wastes in the blood (uremia) can also cause nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss.
Symptom 7: Shortness of Breath
Trouble catching your breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. And second, anemia (a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells) can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.
Symptom 8: Feeling Cold
Anemia can make you feel cold all the time, even in a warm room.
Most chronic kidney disease (CKD) can’t be cured. The good news is that if your doctor finds out that you have a kidney problem, there may be a number of ways to help slow down the disease, help you feel better, and help you make better medical decisions.