symptoms of kidney failure
Chronic kidney failure is a bit different than acute kidney failure: it develops slowly over a period of weeks, months or years in some patients with kidney disease

6 Common Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is more prevalent than ever, with an estimated 20 million Americans suffering from some stage of the illness. The good news is that chronic kidney disease won’t necessarily lead to kidney failure.

The vast majority of kidney disease patients – even those with an advanced stage of the disease – will never experience total kidney failure. However, without proper medical treatment and self-care, kidney disease could progress steadily, leading to life-threatening complications before you realize the severity of the situation.

Chronic kidney failure is a bit different than acute kidney failure: it develops slowly over weeks, months or years in some patients with kidney disease. In many cases, symptoms of CKD are subtle for a long time and can lead to kidney failure without much pain at all. On the other hand, some people experience a general pattern of discomfort that signals a buildup of waste products in the body.

6 Key Symptoms of Kidney Failure

1. Changes in Urination

The kidneys eliminate waste through urine, so it makes sense that changes in frequency, quantity, or the appearance of urine could point to a more serious problem with the kidneys. Blood in the urine is probably the most startling warning sign, but cloudy or foamy urine could indicate kidney failure, too. Emptying your bladder more often, less often, or incompletely is another suspicious sign.

2. Fatigue

One of the most common – and most overlooked – symptoms of kidney failure is anemia, which manifests as fatigue.  Essentially, kidney damage reduces the production of EPO, an important hormone that maintains the steady production of red blood cells. Less EPO means fewer red blood cells and fewer red blood cells mean less oxygen is available to energize your cells and tissues. Since fatigue is such a general and common complaint, it’s easy to ignore this symptom of kidney failure.

3. Swelling

Fluid buildup in the face, hands and feet leads (known as edema) may mean that the kidneys are not getting rid of waste at an appropriate rate and so your body is beginning to store it in other tissues. Patients sometimes find that they’re losing weight throughout their body, but their faces and eyes are noticeably puffy. In other cases, ankles become so swollen that it’s difficult to walk comfortably.

4. Skin Changes

Itching is a very common side effect of waste build-up in the blood: sometimes it comes with a rash, and sometimes the itch is much deeper in the tissues. In most cases, it’s a general, whole-body itch that persists for a long time. Sometimes the skin will turn a deep yellow color, or take on a brown tint, as well.

5. Loss of Appetite

A buildup of toxic compounds in your blood can leave a bad taste in your mouth and lend a metallic flavor to food, which may turn you off certain dishes. Nausea and vomiting are also extremely common symptoms of kidney failure, which will understandably limit your appetite, too.

6. Chest Pain and Tightness

If the excess fluid in the body builds up around the lungs or the membrane that surrounds the heart, you may feel shortness of breath, pain, or tightness in the chest. Too much potassium in the bloodstream can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, which put you at risk for sudden heart failure.

Kidney failure is never a welcome diagnosis, but it is more treatable than you might imagine. Sometimes, pinpointing and treating the underlying cause of kidney failure can completely restore kidney function, or at least halt the progression of the disease.

The primary goal is to manage the buildup of waste in your body and use all available resources to prevent total kidney failure. Communicate openly and honestly with your doctor, and learn more about what to watch out for and how to protect your kidneys for years to come.

Read about the symptoms of kidney cancer over at NewLifeOutlook.