Learn the Early Signs of Kidney Disease

Identifying the signs and symptoms of kidney disease is a critical step for early detection.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, many of the more than 30 million Americans with kidney disease don’t even realize they have it. Symptoms are often overlooked or attributed to more minor causes. It’s not until the disease has progressed and symptoms are too obvious to ignore that many decide to see a doctor.

If left undiagnosed, kidney disease can result in kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is irreversible and must be treated through dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Most people are born with two kidneys, fist-sized organs that filter toxins and excess fluid from our blood each day. This process keeps our nerves, muscles, and other bodily tissues functioning smoothly. When kidneys become diseased, toxins start to build up. This can trigger a range of symptoms, including:

Increased Fatigue: Excess toxins may make you feel more tired, inhibit your ability to focus, and turn every-day activities, like lifting groceries out of the car, into strenuous endeavors. Iron deficiencies like anemia are also common side effects of kidney disease that can result in feelings of fatigue.

Dry Skin: Shifting mineral levels within the blood and changes in the sweat and oil glands may occur as a result of kidney disease. This lack of proper nutrients and moisture leads to flaky, itchy skin.

Difficulty Sleeping: Patients with kidney disease might experience Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) due to a lack of iron. These sudden, uncontrollable leg twitches often occur when the body is lying down and can make it extremely difficult to get to sleep. Poorly functioning kidneys can also cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is not only disruptive, but potentially dangerous if left untreated.

Changes in Urine: Fluid and toxins filtered from the blood by your kidneys are discarded through roughly two quarts of urine each day. When your kidneys start failing, you may feel the need to go to the bathroom more often and notice significant changes in the quality of your urine. Weak kidneys allow blood cells and protein to seep through filters, turning urine slightly red and foamy. This loss of protein can also lead to puffiness around the eyes.

Cramping and Swelling: Sodium retention is a common side effect of kidney disease, and can result in swelling, particularly around the feet and ankles. Electrolyte imbalances are also prevalent and may cause muscle cramping throughout the body.

Poor Appetite: A buildup of toxins in the bloodstream can significantly decrease your hunger levels.

Next Steps if You’re Experiencing Symptoms

The symptoms associated with kidney disease should not be ignored, especially if experienced in conjunction with one another or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of kidney disease. Early detection is a critical part of kidney health and ESRD prevention.

Schedule an appointment with the Southeastern Massachusetts Dialysis Group today if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and think you may be at risk of developing kidney disease.