Are you ignoring the top 10 signs of kidney disease? Over 37 million Americans have kidney disease. Many of them don't even know it because early kidney disease is usually silent. Unfortunately, by the time patients are referred to me to take care of their kidney disease, it's often too far gone and it's already time for them to start dialysis or to get a kidney transplant.
Many of the signs and symptoms of kidney disease are not obvious. So today, we're going to talk about it. I'm going to give you the top 10 signs and symptoms that you might have kidney disease.
What Are Kidneys?
I'm Dr. Frita, I'm an MD who is board certified in nephrology and hypertension, which is a study of kidney disease and high blood pressure. Your two kidneys are the bean-shaped organs located in your lower back or your flank. They're where the love handles are. And they are responsible for filtering out your blood and getting rid of excess toxins, and excess water, and excreting it from your body in the form of urine.
Kidneys are also responsible for helping to balance your electrolytes, and helping you to maintain normal blood pressure. They also help you to not be anemic and they do so much more. When your kidneys are not filtering your blood properly, you have kidney disease and if you have this kidney disease for three months or more, we call it chronic kidney disease or CKD.
What Causes Kidney Disease?
The top two causes of kidney disease are number one, diabetes, and number two, high blood pressure. There are many other causes as well including, lupus, infections, such as HIV and hepatitis can cause kidney disease. Also, excessive medication use, pain medications such as excessive NSAID use can cause kidney disease, and certain antibiotics that are poisonous or toxic to the kidneys can cause kidney failure. And you can also have situations where you have an inflammation of kidney cells or glomerulonephritis like FSG, or focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The key to preventing the progression of kidney disease and to managing kidney disease is first to recognize it.
Top 10 Signs Of Kidney Disease That You Might Be Ignoring
1. Swelling Of The Feet, Ankles, and Legs
When you have kidney disease oftentimes, the way that you process the salt or the sodium in your body may be abnormal. If you're holding onto too much sodium or salt, then that can also cause you to hold onto too much fluid and you can get swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs. Also, if you have kidney disease and you are leaking protein in the urine, this can also cause you to have excessive amounts of swelling.
2. Changes In The Amount Of Urine You're Making
Now, many people believe that just because they're making a lot of urine and they feel fine that there's no possible way that they can have kidney disease but this is not true. One of the symptoms of kidney disease can actually be making too much urine. Meaning, you might be getting up in the middle of the night to urinate or having nocturia. And this is because if you have kidney disease and your kidneys are not concentrating the urine properly, you can have excess or really dilute urine and so you're actually urinating more than normal. You're getting up at night. You can also have a change in urine output, especially towards the later stages of kidney disease if you're just not filtering properly and you're not making much urine at all if you have oliguria, a low urine output.
Feeling tired and weak all of the time. The kidneys, in addition to filtering out the toxins and the urine also help to manage your anemia, they help to keep your energy up. They help to keep your blood pressure at a normal state. And so if you have kidney disease and you have a buildup of all of this excess and toxins in your body and you are anemic as well, then it can cause you to have extreme fatigue and weakness.
4. A Metal Taste In Your Mouth and Unintentional Weight Loss
Another symptom of kidney disease can be having a metal taste in your mouth and unintentional weight loss. When the toxins build up that the kidneys are no longer filtering properly, it can cause you to have an abnormal taste in your mouth, a metal taste, and it can make you really have a loss of appetite and it can lead to an unintentional weight loss.
5. Easy Bruising or Bleeding
When you have elevated kidney toxins and you are in a state called uremia, when you have an elevated BUN, blood urea nitrogen, this can cause your platelets which are those blood cells that help you to stop bleeding, they help you to clot if you cut yourself. If the platelets have an abnormal function due to the toxins, then they're not going to stick together well. And so if you bump yourself or you cut yourself, you're not going to clot as quickly as you should. And so you may notice that you're bruising even if you just bump something lightly or if you brush your teeth, you might have excessive bleeding in your gums. So yes, if you have easy bruising or excessive bleeding, this could be a sign of kidney disease.
6. Itchy Skin
One of the substances that your kidneys help to process or help you to get rid of is phosphorus. If you have kidney disease, especially advanced kidney disease, then you may have very elevated levels of phosphorus in your blood and this can cause you to itch all over. I mean, to itch everywhere. So itchy skin is another symptom of kidney disease.
7. Foamy Urine
Yes, if you have foamy or very bubbly urine, this could be a symptom of kidney disease. And I don't just mean a few bubbles, because it's normal when you urinate to have a few bubbles that you see in the toilet water. But if it's foaming up like a really thick white foam, something like that would be similar to what you see in a beer commercial, that white foam. This could be an indication that you are leaking protein in the urine, which is not normal. It's not normal to have excess protein in the urine.
This could be a symptom of kidney disease because there are many things, including diabetes nephrotic syndrome, nephritic syndrome, lupus, and all kinds of kidney disease that can cause you to leak protein in the urine. And unless you're getting it tested, you won't necessarily know, but make sure you pay attention to what your urine looks like. Because if you have foamy urine, this could be a symptom of kidney disease.
8. Puffy Eyes or A Swollen Face
If you have puffy eyes or a swollen face, this could be an indication of kidney disease because if you're leaking out protein, then what happens is you'll often also tend to seep fluid into your vessels. You see, your protein acts like a sponge that helps to keep fluid inside of your blood vessels. If you have a kidney disease that's making you urinate out this protein, then you no longer have that sponge inside of your vessels. And without that sponge holding the fluid in, then the fluid will seep out and give you that edema or swelling. Sometimes the swelling can occur in your face. And so if you're noticing that you're having puffy eyes, or swelling of the face, then this could be a symptom of kidney disease.
9. Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting can be nonspecific, there are many diseases that can cause this. But guess what? Kidney disease is one of them. When you have elevated kidney toxins in your body that the kidneys just aren't filtering out properly, it can cause you to be nauseated. And so if this is happening to you, then it could be a symptom of kidney disease.
Be sure to download your copy of my book, it's called "Under Pressure: A Guide To Controlling High Blood Pressure." It's your step-by-step guide on how to control high blood pressure. This book is packed with valuable tools, guidelines, and information to help you to control high blood pressure. - Dr. Frita
10. High Blood Pressure
Yes, hypertension. So as I discussed, high blood pressure is a cause of kidney disease but kidney disease can also cause you to have high blood pressure. Your kidneys are responsible for helping you to regulate your blood pressure through a renin-angiotensin system. Also through the way that they help you to maintain a proper sodium balance. If you have kidney disease, that kidney disease in and of itself could be the cause of high blood pressure. So if you have hypertension, this could be a sign of kidney disease. Be sure to watch my video on 15 foods to avoid if you have high blood pressure after you finish reading this article.
So these are some of the top 10 signs of kidney disease and could be ignoring them. If you have these signs and symptoms, please be sure to consult with your physician. And if you have kidney disease, make sure you're managed by a nephrologist or a kidney doctor. If you found this article to be helpful and informative, please be sure to share it with the people you care about and if you have not done so already, please be sure to follow me on my YouTube channel and also check out my Instagram @dr.frita and be sure to check out my podcast, Healthy Happy Life Podcast with Dr. Frita. And be sure to live your healthiest, happiest life!