9 Signs Of Kidney Problems

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The kidney is an essential detox organ of the urinary system. When it fails to work optimally, impurities and toxins that it would normally have expelled from the system remain in your blood. Over time this builds up, causing subtle signs like swelling of your hands and feet, fatigue, muscle twitching, difficulty with urination, and itchiness that doesn't let up.

Have you been feeling unusually tired? Does your food just not taste the same anymore? Is a muscular cramp keeping you up at night? Kidney trouble shows up in the form of a host of symptoms, some of which you may not pin down to a problem with your kidneys. But taken together, you will be able to tell that your kidneys may need some treatment. If you’re diabetic, have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure, or have a family history of kidney problems, you’ll need to be doubly careful to watch out for these signs.

Fatigue And Weakness


When kidneys don’t work at their optimal levels, impurities and toxins that it would normally have expelled from your system remain in your blood. Over time this builds up, causing you to feel perpetually exhausted and weak. It might even be hard to concentrate on regular work. If you’ve also developed anemia as a result of kidney trouble, that’s bound to make you feel even weaker.1

Swelling Of Your Hands And Feet


Water retention can cause your feet, ankles, and even hands to swell up. This swelling, also called edema, is a result of the higher levels of sodium circulating in your body because your kidneys aren’t filtering as they should. An injured kidney is unable to purge the waste and causes an excess of sodium and fluid in your system. You can ease symptoms by keeping tabs on your blood pressure, cutting down on salt and potassium, and taking a diuretic to ease the swelling.2

Itchiness That Doesn’t Let Up


Unlike normal skin irritation which is soothed with some moisturizing, renal trouble-related itchiness comes from within. This itching, called uremic pruritus, is a condition that occurs when there is too much urea in your blood – an outcome of malfunctioning kidneys. People with this problem complain of having skin that’s both dry and itchy.3

Losing Your Appetite


Having kidney problems can even impact your taste buds. If you find your appetite waning, or if your favorite food suddenly doesn’t taste as good (in fact, nothing tastes quite like before when you have a kidney that’s in trouble), you may not eat as much as before. You might even experience nausea, vomiting, or a bad taste in your mouth as a result of kidney trouble. What’s important, however, is to get treated for your kidney problem and to ensure adequate nutrient intake to stay strong and healthy. It may help to rejig your diet with the help of a specialist, keeping in mind a kidney-friendly nutrient mix that cuts out salt and potassium and focuses on giving you the calories you need.4

Muscular Cramps And Restless Leg Syndrome


Cramping up is typical of kidney diseases. If you find your legs in particular tend to develop cramps quite often, it could be due to the imbalance of electrolytes and fluid in your body. Problems with blood flow to the kidney may also worsen the condition. You may also develop restless leg syndrome or muscular twitches.5

Insomnia Or Difficulty Sleeping


It’s not hard to see why getting a good night’s rest would be difficult if you had kidney trouble. Whether it is constant trips to the bathroom to take a tinkle or the twitching from a restless leg, people with kidney problems often have issues with sleeping as well. Restless leg syndrome even on its own impairs the quality of sleep and increases the chances of someone developing insomnia.6

Sexual Dysfunction And Decreased Sexual Desire


Your kidneys also regulate the blood pressure in your body and play a key role in maintaining that perfect balance of electrolytes. When kidneys start to malfunction, this has an impact on blood flow and can cause erectile dysfunction among men and menstrual irregularities among women. Fertility and libido take a hit in men and women with kidney disease.7

Urge To Urinate Often


A symptom that can be easily confused for a sign of something else, say a urinary infection, is the urge to urinate frequently. This is because your body is producing copious quantities of fluid (but without the usual amounts of waste products in them) because your kidneys are not functioning normally.8

Blood In Your Urine


Seeing blood in your urine should set alarms bells ringing. When it comes to kidney problems, blood in your urine is a sign that you may have a kidney infection – especially if this symptom is accompanied by fever and pain on one side of your abdomen. Kidney stones stuck in the tubes emerging from your kidneys can sometimes cause blood in the urine too.9 There are, however, other causes for blood in the urine, including a urinary tract infection, vigorous exercise, a menstrual period if you’re female, or a virus. So don’t assume the worst, but take action swiftly just in case.10

References   [ + ]

1, 8. 10 Signs You may have Kidney Disease, National Kidney Foundation.
2. Glomerulonephritis, National Kidney Foundation.
3. About Chronic Kidney Disease, National Kidney Foundation.
4. Kidney Failure: What to Expect, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
5. Gigli, Gian Luigi, Massimo Adorati, Pierluigi Dolso, Antonella Piani, Mariarosaria Valente, Stefania Brotini, and Riccardo Budai. “Restless legs syndrome in end-stage renal disease.” Sleep medicine 5, no. 3 (2004): 309-315.
6. Mucsi, Istvan, Miklos Zsolt Molnar, Csaba Ambrus, Lilla Szeifert, Agnes Zsofia Kovacs, Rezső Zoller, Szabolcs Barotfi, Adam Remport, and Marta Novak. “Restless legs syndrome, insomnia and quality of life in patients on maintenance dialysis.” Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation 20, no. 3 (2005): 571-577.
7. Palmer, Biff F. “Sexual dysfunction in men and women with chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease.” Advances in renal replacement therapy 10, no. 1 (2003): 48-60.
9. Blood in urine (haematuria), NHS.
10. Blood in urine, American Kidney Fund.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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