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kidney disease: Noticing these 14 symptoms could save your life!



Kidney disease could be caused due to several factors. But most people are not aware of the fact that it can be a silent killer. It may not show any symptoms till the time the condition becomes critical. Therefore it is essential for you to recognise the symptoms of kidney diseases early so that you can seek treatment soon.

Here are 12 such important symptoms of kidney disease you need to be aware of:

1. Changes in your urinary function

The first symptom of kidney disease is a change in the amount and frequency of the urine you pass. There may be:

An increase or decrease in amount of urine you pass
Dark coloured urine (darker than usual).
Feeling the urge to urinate but are unable to do so when you get to the restroom.
Increase or decrease in its frequency, especially at night. According to Dr Avinash Ignatius, senior consultant nephrologist DaVita, Pune Region, ‘Frequent urination at night is one of the most common and early symptom of chronic kidney disease and it should not be ignored even though it is harmless. While other symptoms of the disease usually develop at later stage of the disease after the kidney has lost approximately 80% of its function.’

2. Difficulty or pain during voiding (or passing urine)

Sometimes you may have difficulty or feel pressure or pain while voiding. This could indicate a urinary tract infection which may cause symptoms such as pain or burning during urination. A spread of the infection to your kidneys which may cause fever and pain in your back.

3. Blood in the urine

This is a symptom of kidney disease which is a definite cause for concern. Whenever you see this, do not ignore it. Visit a doctor immediately.

4. Foamy urine

This is a symptom where a person notices foam forming on their urine once passed. According to Dr Deepa Jayaram, a leading nephrologist practising in Mumbai, this is caused due to the leakage of protein from the person’s body and is another symptom of kidney disease.

5. Swelling or oedema

While this is fairly common symptom, this happens because your kidneys are responsible for the removal of waste and extra fluid from your body. When they are unable to do so, this extra fluid builds up in your body. Dr Deepa says, ‘This symptom is caused because of the body’s inability to get rid of excess water and salts from the body. So a person with this condition will notice swelling on the feet, ankles, puffiness of the face and tightness of the hands.’ This is also known as oedema.

6. Extreme fatigue, anaemia and generalised weakness

Your kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin which helps red blood cells carry oxygen. When they malfunction, the levels of this hormone drop drastically. This causes a drop in the number of red blood cells in your body resulting in anaemia which also leads to symptoms like generalised weakness and extreme fatigue.

7. Dizziness and Inability to concentrate

Anaemia associated with kidney disease also depletes your brain of oxygen which may cause dizziness, trouble with concentration, etc.

8. Feeling cold all the time

Kidney disease is known to cause anaemia, which also causes you to feel cold even when in a warm surrounding. Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) may also cause fever with chills. Extreme fatigue and exhaustion can also be responsible for this symptom.

9. Skin rashes and itching

This is a symptom that is commonly confused with other more innocuous conditions like an allergy, but rashes could also indicate kidney disease and failure. Kidney failure causes waste build-up in your blood. This causes severe itching and skin rashes. Apart from kidney disease there are other reasons for itchy skin you must know about.

10. Ammonia breath and metallic taste

Another very indicative symptom of kidney disease, this is often missed while looking for indications of kidney disease. Kidney failure increases level of urea in the blood (uraemia). This urea is broken down to ammonia in the saliva causing urine-like bad breath called ammonia breath. It is also usually associated with an unpleasant metallic taste (dysgeusia) in the mouth.

11. Nausea and vomiting

The build-up of waste products in your blood in kidney disease can also cause nausea and vomiting.

12. Lack of appetite

One suffers from this symptom due to the build up of toxins and waste materials in the body. Dr Deepa Jayaram, says, ‘Since kidney disease usually presents without any symptoms, the build up of toxins tend to lead the way, when it comes to diagnosis. Therefore, when seen with other symptoms, lack of appetite can be one that indicates kidney disease.’

13. Shortness of breath

‘If the kidney disease is severe enough, it can cause a build up of fluid in the lungs leading to a feeling of breathlessness.’, says Dr Deepa Jayaram, leading nephrologist. Apart from that, anaemia, a common side-effect of kidney disease, starves your body of oxygen making you suffer from breathlessness.

14. Pain in the back or sides

This is a common indicator of kidney disease, but is not seen in all people suffering from the condition. The pain is characteristic and you may feel a severe cramping pain that spreads from the lower back into the groin. This symptom could be an indicator of a number of conditions, like:

Kidney stone or one in the ureter could be a cause of this pain.
Conditions like polycystic kidney disease — an inherited kidney disorder, which causes many fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys).
Interstitial cystitis – a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall.

Here’s nephrologist Dr Deepa Jayaram, telling us more about the symptoms of kidney disease:

-Dr Anitha Anchan

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