11 Signs you May Have Kidney Disease
06 Mar, 2023
11 Signs you May Have Kidney Disease
Most of us know that God has bestowed us all with two kidneys, primarily responsible for filtering the blood free of the nitrogenous waste products that often contain urea, creatinine, acids, etc. and produce urine.
Millions of people live with various kidney diseases, and most don’t know better about them. It is why kidney disease is often known as a ‘Silent Killer’ as most people do not feel any difference until the disease is advanced. While people get their blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol levels checked regularly, they fail to get a simple creatinine test done in their blood to detect any unidentified kidney problems. According to a study by Global Burden Disease (GBD) in 2015, chronic kidney disease is ranked as India’s eighth leading cause of mortality. A survey from ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) conducted seven years back reflects that diabetes and hypertension account for over two-thirds of the cases of Chronic Kidney Disease. In India, too, diabetes and hypertension today account for 40–60% of cases of Chronic Kidney Disease.
As medical science progresses, there are several warning signs of kidney failure and problems. However, these are often ignored or need clarification with alternative pathologies (because of their non-specific nature). Therefore, one must be exceptionally watchful and get the confirmatory tests (including blood, urine, and imaging) done at the earliest appearance of any sign of a kidney disorder. One should visit a Nephrologist and clarify their doubts. But if you have hypertension, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome as one calls it in today’s age, or Coronary Artery Disease, and a family history of the same or a family history of kidney failure or even if you’re older than 60 years of age, it is advisable to get kidney tests done regularly.
While the only definitive way to diagnose a kidney disease is to get confirmatory tests done, here are some early warning signs of kidney disease:
- Swelling over the ankles, feet or legs: As the kidney function begins to fall, sodium retention causes swelling in your shin and ankles. In a nutshell, any individual with swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet should get an immediate evaluation of kidney functioning after visiting a kidney specialist.
- Periorbital Edema: It denotes swelling or puffiness around the eyes caused by fluid accumulation in the cells or tissues. It is among the earliest signs of kidney failure in many cases. It is especially prominent in individuals where a significant amount of protein is leaked via the kidney. Loss of protein from the body decreases intravascular oncotic pressure and accumulates extravascular fluid in various sites, like around the eyes.
- Weakness: Gaining fat is often the most common cause of kidney disease. As kidney dysfunction progresses, the symptoms related to the kidney become more and more prominent. One may feel more exhausted than on regular days and cannot perform more strenuous activities, thus requiring rest more often. This happens all due to the accumulation of impurities and toxins in the blood, resulting from poor kidney functioning. Being a non-specific symptom, it is often ignored by most individuals and needs to be thoroughly investigated.
- Decreased Appetite: Secondary to releasing toxins from the body like urea, creatinine, and acids- an individual’s appetite sometimes changes. Also, as kidney disease affects the other body parts, there is a change of taste, often described as something different than normal. If one gets the feeling of early satiety despite barely having anything during the day, it should raise alarm bells in one’s mind, and one should get their kidney function evaluated.
- Early morning nausea and vomiting: Another of the earliest signs of worsening kidney function is the presence of early morning nausea, which is often classically described as hitting the person when they go to the bathroom in the morning to brush their teeth. It also leads to poor food intake of the individual. At the end stage of kidney failure, the patient tends to have multiple episodes of frequent vomits and loss of appetite.
- Anaemia: Haemoglobin level starts to fall, and one might look pale, without any apparent site of blood loss from the body. It is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. This can also cause weakness and fatigue. The cause of anaemia is multifactorial, including low Erythropoietin levels (Erythropoietin being synthesized in the kidney), low iron levels, and toxin accumulation causing bone marrow suppression.
- Changes in Urine: One must often keep an eagle eye on their urine output if they face kidney problems. For instance, the urinary output may decrease, or you may need to urinate more often, especially at night. It can be a warning sign and may indicate that the kidney filtering units are damaged or in the process of being damaged. Sometimes this can also be a sign of some urinary tract infection or enlarged prostate in men. Thus, a change (increase or decrease) in the urine output should be reported immediately to your nephrologist.
- Blood in Urine: Excessive frothiness in the urine indicates the presence of protein in the urine. When the kidney’s filtering mechanism has been or is being damaged, protein and blood cells leak into the urine. In addition to signaling kidney disease, blood in the urine can reflect kidney stones, tumors, or any other symptoms of infection. Also, pus associated with urine and fever can be severe and may again be a sign of a serious urinary tract infection. Thus changes in color, consistency or nature of urine should be informed as early as possible to be a kidney specialist.
- Itchy or Dry skin: Itchy or dry skin can be a sign of CKD. As the kidney function falls, toxins accumulate in the body leading to itchy, dry and foul-smelling skin.
- Lower Abdomen Pain: Pain in the back, side or below the ribs can be the most reflecting cause of kidney failure like pyelonephritis. Similarly, lower abdomen pain can be associated with a bladder infection or stone in a ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder). Such symptoms should not be ignored and should be investigated further by a routine imaging study like X-ray KUB or Ultrasound Abdomen.
- High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure may be the most impactful sign of kidney disorder or kidney disease. Any person diagnosed with hypertension must have a detailed workup of kidney functions and kidney imaging to rule out the kidney etiology of hypertension. As kidney function deteriorates, sodium and water retention leads to high blood pressure. Symptoms of hypertension often include visual blackouts, headache, abdominal pain, and others.
Recognition and awareness of warning signs and timely check-ups can mean the difference between early detection and treatment of kidney disorder or kidney failure, which result in dialysis or kidney transplant. In many extreme case, the condition may lead to death.
If you’re worried that you may have kidney disease or have any pain or problem with your kidneys, trust us! We at, ShuddiHiiMS examine you, evaluate your symptoms, and decide on the best course of treatment given your particular condition. What makes us different is the use of Panchkarma therapies, which are core to overcoming chronic conditions. We also use yoga sessions and certain exercises so patients feel convenient while seeking treatment.