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- Feb 09 2017
10 Common Signs of Kidney Failure & What You Should Do about It
According to the National Kidney Foundation of USA, more than 26 million American adults are currently quietly suffering from kidney diseases, yet know nothing about. Yet, you cannot blame people for problems in the kidneys are extremely silent in their onset, they usually show no symptoms until they attain severity.
With the possibility of crippling normal function for the rest of your life, the threat of kidney diseases or kidney failure should be strongly and quickly tackled.
The kidneys are readily susceptible to common ailments that everyone gets either time to time, or by old age. From high blood pressure and diabetes to insufficient water consumption, a lot of factors take part in disturbing normal kidney function.
The lack of kidneys doesn’t necessarily mean the end of life. However life post kidney failure is extremely difficult and far from desirable. Hence, quick detection of ongoing kidney problems is necessary. It is advised that every individual takes a regular annual kidney checkup, especially if he or she is at over the age of 60.
However, annual checkups do not mean immunity from kidney issues. Bad and failing kidneys may strike any time of the year often leaving the patient clueless about the same. Here are ten common signs of kidney failure and their related course of action.
1. Increased tiredness, frequent feeling of low energy and lack of concentration
With deteriorating kidney function, there is a buildup of toxins and impurities in one’s blood stream. Over time, with accumulating waste in the blood, one frequently starts feeling increasingly tired and listless towards work that once wasn’t so tiring.
Another accompanying sign of kidney failure is anemia, which can essentially be described as a lack of red blood cells in the bloodstream. Anemia can be detected by symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath or skin going pale.
All these are pretty common symptoms and are easily attributed to the hustle bustle of work. The next time these worrying symptoms show up, make sure you suspect a kidney failure if not anything else.
2. Dry And Itchy Skin
Another sign of kidney failure is dry and itchy skin. Besides removing toxins from the body, the kidneys release hormones (erythropoietin and enzyme renin) that help in attaining a balance of minerals in one’s blood. Once this balance of minerals goes askew, it shows up physically as the dry and itchy skin on the outside.
When dry and itchy skin is accompanied by any other kidney failure symptom, make sure your thoughts go to your kidneys.
3. Sleep troubles
When one feels increasingly tired day by day, sleep shouldn’t be very far away, right? In the case of renal failure, wrong. Despite the feeling of tiredness, patients suffering from kidney anomalies find themselves little to no sleep at night. Failure to sleep is a chronic kidney disease symptom, which means, unfortunately, your disease is here to stay.
This lack of sleep can be linked to increased toxicity of blood when renal function isn’t doing its job properly. When victims of kidney failure do find sleep, their sleep might be very disturbed, or they might find themselves suffering from sleep apnea- a breathing while sleeping disorder.
. Increased urge to urinate
Contra-indicatively, increased the urge to urinate does not mean improved or vibrant kidney function, it is quite the opposite. Urine flows down a tube called ureter which empties itself into the bladder.
When the bladder becomes full, one gets the urge to urinate. In normal kidney function, toxins filtered by the kidneys are released in this urine. However, bad kidney function will have a person urinating fluid which is essentially only water without the expected waste product in it.
While frequent urination is first a sign of bladder problems more than anything else, kidney failure or disease is also highly probable.
5. Poor or decreased appetite
While poor appetite is a symptom of many other diseases too, it inevitably shows up during renal failure. The reason for decreased appetite can be one or a combination of the following-
1. A feeling of being full too fast (despite not eating much)
2. A feeling of food tasting strange or a complete lack of taste in food
3. Being too tired to eat food
Minor signs of poor appetite show up with the onset of kidney failure and the problem cements itself once a person reaches stage 4 of kidney disease (a point where dialysis is necessary).
6. Foamy urine output
When improperly processed urine is released, the output is sufficiently rich in a protein known as albumin. This protein causes the urine output to be foamy in nature. The foam produced is similar to the foam formed when beating eggs, as eggs consist of the same protein.
Foamy nature of the urine that takes repeated flushes in the toilet to go away is a common sign of renal failure.
7. Blood in urine output
Healthy kidneys filter toxins out of one’s blood and keep the red blood cells within the body. However, when this function is damaged, it causes blood to spill out into the urine, giving urine out accompanied with blood.
Redness or conspicuous blood in the urine is one of renal failure’s most common symptoms.
8. Swollen Feet And Ankles
Due to retention of sodium in the blood stream, one may experience swollen feet and ankles and an accompanying difficulty in walking.
The swelling caused due to renal failure has one stark difference from common swellings. In technical terms, such swelling is known as edema. When pressed inwards, the swelling stays inwards and does not attain its old shape. It has a pulpy and painful feel to it.
9. Muscle Cramps
Electrolyte and mineral imbalances, as noted before, is one of the wrongdoings of kidney disease.
Low calcium levels and poor phosphorus management by the body leads to one facing an incessant number of cramped muscles throughout the day.
10. Puffiness around the eyes
As noted above, the protein albumin is lost in the urine during kidney failure. As an indirect result of this, one might experience a persistent puffiness around the eyes, which keeps returning despite applying related remedies and medication.
Acute Renal Failure
The above symptoms have been delivered keeping chronic kidney ailments in mind. However, one can have the misfortune of facing acute renal failure, by virtue of which all kidney functions disappear suddenly in the blink of an eye.
Acute renal failure symptoms include decreased urinary output, nausea, fatigue, swelling and shortness of breath. Occasionally, there might be no symptoms at all.
What You Can Do About It?
To answer this question, one must revisit the famous one-liner of medicine; prevention is better than cure. A lot of good habits can be practiced to help yourself in lowering the risk of kidney failure. Some are:
1. Drink lots and lots of water. The medical standard is drinking 12 glasses of water a day.
2. Try to quit smoking.
3. Try to avoid partaking in alcohol or at least keep consumption in check. The USA government has set the alcohol limit per day to a minimum of 14 units.
4. Follow a good and well-balanced diet. Try to eat foods with water content such as watermelon. Eat less salt and fat.
Besides these well-known yet rarely followed tips to keep kidney issues at bay, one must also:
1. Keep one’s blood pressure in check. Constantly high blood pressure (hypertension) inevitably leads to kidney failure.
2. Keep one’s sugar levels in check. Extra care must be taken if one is diabetic
Annual Tests, Less Chances Of Failure
When annual tests are carried out with utmost dedication, you can cut swathes off your chances of kidney failure. Proper tests done in this regard might lead to early detection and will aid in having chances of complete recuperation of the failed kidney.
Do not think of losing a kidney as a minor inconvenience. When one loses a kidney, the load to filter wastes from the body doubles up on the other kidney. With increased strain, the chances of losing your other kidney also increase.
The only way forward after losing both kidneys is undergoing repeated dialysis, which is obviously a very unwanted end.
Here are some common tests the results of which should always be known to your doctor:
1. Urine test- Keep your urine profile always ready for the doctor to examine. The Albumin Creatinine Ratio (ACR) Test is especially indicative of kidney failure.
2. Blood test- Post kidney failure, the toxins show up in the blood. Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) will aid your doctor in diagnosing your issue.
3. Keep your blood sugar and blood pressure profiles always at the handy, no matter what ailment.
To summarize, chronic kidney disease symptoms are confusing to directly read without a doctor by your side. When diagnosing yourself, the disease may easily escape from your knowledge. Hence, keep your bodily functions always informed to your doctor, so you can nip kidney failure in the bud before it strikes.
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