Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Kidneys help in filtering waste products from our blood and are involved in regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and red blood cell production in the body. When kidneys donot function properly, excess waste and fluids accumulate in the body leading to various health complications.
The gradual transition from unhealthy kidneys to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and finally to kidney failure is subtle with very few symptoms in the early stages. For example in diabetic nephropathy, a kidney disease that results from diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, most cases go undiagnosed due to the absence of any early signs of kidney failure in diabetics.
Recognising the symptoms of kidney failure can save us from associated health problems. Many people living with kidney disease are on the verge of kidney failure but are not even aware of the latent problem with their kidneys. Hence, it is imperative to look at some of the surprising symptoms that surface, giving us an indication of kidney failure.
SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY FAILURE
Leg and back pain
Leg and back pain is the characteristic sign of kidney disease. A lingering pain is felt in the legs and the upper back, close to where the kidneys are situated. Kidneys are located on either side of the body, directly under the diaphragm, near the lower back, that is why the pain radiates to the low back, abdominal sides, or even down into the legs. If you suffer from such pain on regular basics, get a kidney function test to know the true picture or cause of such pains.
Healthy kidneys produce a suitable quantity of EPO (or erythropoietin) hormone. This hormone guides the oxygen-carrying red blood cells to energise the muscles and brain. Without the required quantity of EPO, the body and brain will get fatigued easily.
Kidneys produce urine to filter the waste out of the body. Hence, whenever the kidneys are endangered, urinary urgency may occur frequently. This can be in the middle of the night, and you may notice that they have to urinate more often, with increased pressure, and in larger quantities. The pressure may be so strong on the bladder that the patient may feel they can’t squeeze all of the urine out when they go to the bathroom.
As kidneys fail, they slow their purpose of fluid elimination from the body. Therefore, this excess fluid pools in the extremities, resulting in swollen legs, hands, ankles, and feet.
Skin irritations like acne breakouts and itchy rashes; occur due to the excess waste floating in the body. The excess waste and toxins circuiting in the bloodstream starts to emerge on the surface of the skin, in the form of acne, rashes, dry skin, irritated red skin, hives, and severely itchy skin. Kidney disease and rash on the legs are strongly linked, providing an indication about the improper working of the kidney. Hence, for those who can relate to this symptom, a kidney function test will help you target the real cause.
Toxicity or the excess waste present in the body can result in a feeling of nausea, lack of appetite and weight loss.
Patients suffering from kidney failure mostly experience a metallic taste in their mouth. This remains in the mouth in the weeks and months prior to actual kidney failure. This metal flavour is caused by uremia (the excess waste by-product present in the bloodstream).
The other symptoms which may be experienced by the patients are:
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Sleep disorders
- Chest pain, when the fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
- Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
- High blood pressure (hypertension) that becomes difficult to control
- Foamy urine
- Blood in urine
- Feeling cold
- Persistent puffiness around eyes
The problem with most of these symptoms is that they can also be related to other health conditions and that is the reason why people often overlook them. If you can relate to any of the above-given symptoms are at a risk for kidney disease due to high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of kidney failure or are older than 60 years, then it is recommended to get tested annually for any occurrence of kidney disease.
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