Renal Health Network

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is usually a silent disease. Most people do not have any symptoms until 3 / 4 of your kidney function has been lost. Symptoms that may show up as your kidney function deteriorates include:

  • frequent headaches
  • fatigue
  • itching all over your body

As kidney disease worsens, the body is unable to get rid of waste products and excess water. This condition is called uremia. In addition to earlier symptoms, you may experience:

  • frequent urination or passing less urine
  • swelling in legs, ankles, feet, face and/or hands
  • metallic or bad taste in mouth
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling cold
  • trouble concentrating, dizziness
  • leg pain or muscle cramps

As chronic kidney disease (CKD) progresses, the following complications may develop:

Anemia
If your blood is low in red blood cells, you have anemia. Red bloods cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) that stimulates red blood cell production. If your kidneys are not functioning well, fewer red blood cells are produced. Anemia may occur even in people with only moderate loss of kidney function. Symptoms may include lack of energy, headaches, irritability or difficulty concentrating. Muscle activity and cell building/repair may also be impaired.
Electrolyte Imbalance
Electrolytes include such substances as sodium, potassium, phosphate, calcium, and magnesium. When the kidneys are unable to filter out these substances, they build-up and can impair muscle coordination, heart function, fluid absorption and excretion, nerve function and concentration.
Fluid Imbalance
When kidney function decreases, fluid builds up in the body’s tissues. Fluid build-up can cause congestive heart failure, and can also cause pulmonary edema, which results in dangerously low levels of oxygen in the blood and requires immediate treatment.
Uremia
When the kidneys are unable to properly remove waste products, these wastes build-up in the body and damage it. Some of the early signs of uremia are fatigue, loss of appetite, and edema (fluid build up in body tissue).

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