How Do I Recognize the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?

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  • Written By: Helena Reimer
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
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The symptoms of kidney disease often mimic those of other health conditions and, in many cases, do not show up until its later stages. Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, is a very serious condition that can lead to death if it is not treated and maintained. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of kidney disease as soon as they appear. Changes in the urine, edema, and fatigue are common symptoms of kidney disease that should not be ignored. In some cases, poor kidney function can also affect the mind and result in memory loss and poor concentration.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste material from the blood and expelling it via the urine. When the kidneys begin to malfunction, however, excess amounts of toxins and electrolytes remain in the bloodstream. As a result, less fluids are discharged from the body, which causes the urine to become concentrated as well. Therefore, one of the first signs of kidney disease will be in the blood and urine and can be diagnosed with a blood or urine test.


Concentrated urine appears darker in color and in some cases can also be foamy. Difficulties in urinating or a frequent need to go are common because the body is unable to eliminate the excess fluids. This is known as fluid retention and can lead to swelling in the face and extremities. Fluids can also build up inside the lungs and lead to breathing difficulties, such as a shortness of breath.

Poor kidney function slows the production of a hormone known as erythropoietin, which helps in the production of red blood cells. A reduced amount of blood cells in turn can result in anemia and cause symptoms such as an intolerance to the cold and chronic fatigue. You might also experience memory loss and a loss of concentration because the brain is not receiving enough nutrients. Other symptoms of kidney disease include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and high blood pressure. Weight loss is also commonly seen as the appetite is reduced.

If you experience any of the symptoms of kidney disease, you should have them checked out by a health care provider, especially if you fall into a higher risk category. Chronic dehydration and certain diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, put extra strains on the kidneys, which ultimately can result in kidney disease. In a similar manner, medications, such as diuretics, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs, are toxic and can also result in a kidney injury.



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