Subtle symptoms could signal serious issues. Aching back, frequent urination, and unexplained fatigue may point to kidney disease.
Feeling constant fatigue, high blood pressure, or even just some swelling in your hands and feet? These symptoms might be easy to ignore, but they could also be signs of a much larger issue — kidney disease.
Kidney disease is a medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and its early detection can play a crucial role in managing its progression and improving outcomes.
Kidney health might not be on your radar, but it should be. Your kidneys, each about the size of your fist, play a crucial role in your body. They filter waste and excess fluids from your blood, which are then excreted in your urine. Generally, when your kidneys aren’t working as they should, it’s a cause for concern.
To help you understand more about this often silent and overlooked condition, General Practitioner Dr. Anita Iroko will tell you about some of the early signs and symptoms of kidney disease that you shouldn’t ignore.
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The Unseen Dangers of Kidney Disease
“Kidney disease is a bit like an iceberg. Most of it is hidden beneath the surface,” Dr. Iroko notes. “Many people with kidney disease feel completely normal and may not realize they have a problem until the disease has significantly progressed.”
Notably, the risk of kidney disease increases with age. It’s also more common in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney problems. However, it can happen to anyone. Therefore, being aware of the early signs is important.
Signs of Kidney Disease
Here are eight symptoms of kidney disease you should never ignore.
1. Persistent Fatigue and General Weakness
One of the earliest signs of kidney disease you might notice is a feeling of fatigue or constant weakness. “Your kidneys naturally produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells,” explains Dr. Iroko. “When your kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, they produce less of this hormone, leading to fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen. As a result, your muscles and brain tire quickly, leading to persistent fatigue.”
2. Changes in Urination
Your kidneys are solely responsible for producing urine, so changes in your urination can be a strong sign of kidney disease. This could manifest as needing to urinate more often (especially at night), experiencing a strong urge to urinate, seeing blood in your urine, or experiencing difficulty starting or stopping urination. If you observe any of these changes, don’t ignore them.
3. Swelling in Hands and Feet
Kidneys remove waste and all extra fluid from your body. When they’re not working correctly, these excess fluids can build up and cause swelling, especially in your hands, feet, and ankles. If you notice unexplained or persistent swelling, it might be time to consult with your healthcare provider.
4. Shortness of Breath
If your kidneys are failing, extra fluid can build up in your lungs, leading to shortness of breath. Furthermore, anemia (a shortage of red blood cells) can starve your body of oxygen, contributing to this symptom.
5. Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
A buildup of toxins in your blood due to impaired kidney function can make food taste differently and cause bad breath. You might also have a metallic taste in your mouth or may stop liking to eat meat. Some people may lose weight because they may lose their appetite.
6. Skin Rash or Itching
Kidney disease can also cause dry and itchy skin. Healthy kidneys do a remarkable job of balancing the minerals and nutrients in your blood, but when they fail, your skin can be affected.
7. Nausea and Vomiting
When your kidneys aren’t removing waste products from your blood effectively, this may result in nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite can also be a sign of kidney disease.
8. Feeling Cold Most of the Time
Kidney disease can make you feel cold all the time, even in a warm room. This is linked to anemia, which can also cause you to feel cold and chilly.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or a combination of them, it’s essential to contact a healthcare provider promptly. “Early detection and management of kidney disease can slow its progression and help maintain your quality of life,” Dr. Iroko emphasizes.
Remember, your kidneys play a vital role in maintaining your overall health. Keep an eye out for these signs of kidney disease, and don’t hesitate to seek help if something doesn’t feel right.
Further Reading: 10 Foods That Help Repair Kidneys