How to Recognize Signs of Kidney Failure

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if not treated.

It happens when the kidneys can no longer filter blood properly, which leads to many different symptoms.

Although kidney failure can happen to anyone, some people are at a greater risk.

In particular, if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, your chances of developing kidney failure increase.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to recognize signs of kidney failure.

If you think you might have kidney failure, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Let’s dive in.

How to Recognize Signs of Kidney Failure

1.  Extreme fatigue

Kidney failure can cause you to feel tired and weak all of the time.

You might not have an appetite, struggle with insomnia, or find it difficult to concentrate when completing simple tasks.

When your kidneys are not working properly, they cannot filter the blood as well.

This causes a buildup of waste products and fluids in your body, making you feel weak and fatigued.

In addition, another common complication of chronic kidney disease is anemia.

Anemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells, which causes you to feel extremely tired.

If you suspect kidney failure might be impacting your energy levels, it’s important to see a doctor right away.

2. Nausea and Vomiting

Another sign of acute kidney failure is nausea and vomiting.

The buildup of waste products in the blood can also lead to nausea and cause you to vomit, especially after eating a meal.

If you have been dealing with nausea and vomiting, see a doctor.

Although, these symptoms can be a sign of many different conditions like food poisoning or the flu.

So it is important to get evaluated by your doctor.

3. Swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs

Decreased kidney function can also lead to swelling in the legs and feet.

This is another common sign of kidney failure that you should be aware of.

Why this happens:

If your kidneys are not working properly, they cannot remove excess fluid from your body.

When this happens, the effects can be seen in several different parts of the body, including:

  • The legs and feet: Fluid builds up in these areas causing swelling that is often worse around the ankles.
  • Around the eyes: Swelling around the eyes is common because of increased fluid retention in the body.
  • Around the stomach: Fluid can also accumulate around your midsection, causing a swollen belly and abdominal pain.

These symptoms of kidney failure are not always easy to recognize because they don’t happen suddenly and, over time, build up slowly.

So it is very important that you pay attention to any changes in your body.

When this happens, it’s important to see a doctor.

4. Itchy and dry skin

Another sign of kidney failure is itchy skin.

This is often accompanied by dry skin that can crack and bleed.

Why this happens:

When the kidneys are not working properly, they cannot remove waste products from your blood as easily.

As a result of these buildups, it may cause you to have itchy skin all over your body or in the area where your kidneys are located, which is usually around the back or sides of the ribs.

So if you have been dealing with an itchy rash that doesn’t go away even when applying lotion to these areas, see a doctor.

5. Frequent urination

Failing kidney functions can also lead to an increase in the need to urinate.

You may find yourself feeling thirsty all of the time and having to get up multiple times throughout the night, even if you have just gone a few hours before.

So if you find yourself going to the bathroom multiple times a day or even at night when you haven’t drunk very much water, see a doctor.

6. Urine color changes

When kidneys fail, they cannot remove waste products from the blood as easily.

As a result, you may notice changes in your urine color and smell.

You may notice that your urine is dark brown and may have a strong odor like ammonia.

It could also appear foaming or fizzing after you urinate because of the excess protein that has built up in your body.

So if you are noticing any changes to your urine’s appearance, see a doctor.

7. Ammonia breath

Kidney failure can also cause Ammonia breath.

This happens because waste products and fluids build up in your body when kidney function decreases, which includes the mouth.

If you notice that your breath is not as fresh or clean as it used to be, this may be a sign of chronic kidney disease.

8. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 

Shortness of breath is also another sign that you should be aware of.

When you breathe, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles expand your chest cavity and bring in more oxygen.

As kidney function decreases, fluid begins to build up in the lungs, making it harder for oxygen to get into your body properly.

This can lead to shortness of breath that gets worse over time or when you exert yourself.

If you notice that your breathing is getting worse over time, see a doctor.

9. Sleep problems

Fluid buildups in the body can also cause sleep problems.

If you’ve been having difficulty sleeping or have noticed that your energy levels aren’t as high during the day, this may be a sign of kidney failure.

Although, there are many other reasons why you might have sleep problems, such as stress or depression.

So if you are noticing that your sleep is disrupted or isn’t as restful, see a doctor.

10. Decreased appetite

Another sign that you may have chronic kidney failure is decreased appetite.

Sometimes when the kidneys are not working properly, it can affect your sense of taste and smell.

So if you find yourself craving food less often, or your food tastes seem to be altered, see a doctor.


These are the most common signs of kidney failure.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

There are treatment options available to help slow down the progression of kidney disease.

Remember: Kidney Failure is dangerous!

Keep on reading: 8 daily habits that can damage your kidneys.