Kidney Dialysis Information Centre
The symptoms of kidney disease problems
Kidney failure is a slow process, and even when only one kidney is working, it can be a long time before the symptoms become totally obvious. Often people are at an advanced stage with serious damage present before they take action, and it may even be too late with irreversible damage.
Some people may not be aware of the symptoms to watch for, so here we present some advice. Many people who do have chronic kidney disease are unaware of the problem. But our absolutely single most important advice is to visit your doctor and take professional advice, and have blood and urine tests carried out. Some of these symptoms may have other causes, so don't jump to conclusions, but equally don't ignore these symptoms.
Kidneys manufacture urine, and changes in your urine may be a clue that you have a problem. Do you have to get up more often in the night to urinate? If your urine is foamy or bubbly, or you pass large amounts of pale urine, then you may have a problem. If you pass urine less often, or rather small amounts of dark coloured urine, then this too can be an indicator of a problem. And if you have difficulty urinating or pass urine with blood in it, this too is a bad sign.
Itching of the skin that gradually gets worse, sometimes accompanied with a skin rash, may also indicate you have a kidney failure problem.
A general feeling of being tired or weak, i.e. fatigue, is associated with anemia, a common problem for those with kidney failure. As mentioned elsewhere on the site, your kidneys manufacture erythropoietin (EPO), which signals the body's bone marrow to make red blood cells, the oxygen transporters in the body. Failing kidneys produce less EPO, which in turn results in less red blood cells being produced. And with less oxygen to fuel the body, patients feel fatigued. Anemia is also associated with the patient feeling cold.
Your kidneys remove waste products, including excess water and salts. When the kidneys start to fail, the body starts to retain fluids and this in turn causes the patient to suffer from swelling in the legs, feet and ankles, the face and the hands (although not necessary all of these places at the same time.)
Loss of appetite, sometimes associated with weight loss can be caused by a build-up of waste products that the kidneys have failed to remove. This build-up of undesirable waste products is also sometimes found to cause nausea and vomiting, and even an unusual metallic taste in the mouth.
Finally, we must repeat, do visit your doctor, and have blood and urine tests. Don't jump to conclusions and then live in fear, but equally important, don't ignore these symptoms, especially if there is a history of renal problems in your family.