7 Signs of Kidney Disease

a puzzle of the kidneys

Kidney disease is a condition that affects more than 37 million American adults, and yet only 10% of those with chronic kidney disease know they have it. Like many other diseases, kidney disease exhibits physical indications, but these symptoms usually become evident in the later stages of kidney disease. While it’s important for those with high blood pressure, a family history of kidney disease, and/or who are over the age of 60 to get tested for kidney disease annually, here are some physical signs of kidney disease. 

1. Unusual Urine

Urinary issues such as an increased urgency to urinate, blood in the urine, or foamy urine are all signs of kidney disease. When the filters in the kidneys are damaged, it increases the need to urinate, especially at night. When blood is found in the urine, this is also indicative of damage to the kidney filters. Healthy kidneys help keep the blood cells in the body while filtering wastes from the body cells, but when the filters aren’t functioning properly, blood cells can start infiltrating the urine. Foamy urine is a sign that there is protein in the urine, which is another indication of kidney filters not working properly. Typically kidney filters don’t let a lot of proteins pass through, so when the urine contains excessive amounts of bubbles, that is a sign that more protein is being passed through the filters than normal.

2. Puffiness Around the Eyes

When excess protein is being released into the urine, it is often taken away from other areas of the body. This protein loss can be revealed by persistent puffiness around the eyes.

3. Loss of Energy

Deterioration in kidney function can lead to an accumulation of wastes and toxins in the body, which can result in a loss of energy, sluggishness, and difficulty concentrating. The toxins remaining in the body can also make it difficult to sleep at night, which further perpetuates feeling tired throughout the day.

4. Decreased Appetite

While appetite levels fluctuate for a variety of different reasons, a consistent decrease in appetite or lack of appetite can be caused by the buildup of toxins in the body.

5. Swelling in the Feet and Ankles

In addition to creating red blood cells, kidneys remove waste and excess fluids from the body. Part of what needs to be filtered by the kidneys is excess sodium, so when the kidneys are not filtering properly, this leads to sodium retention that can cause swelling in the feet and ankles.

6. Muscle Cramps

Impaired kidney function effects on the balance of minerals in the body, and when certain nutrition levels are low or disproportionate, electrolyte imbalances may occur. These imbalances may lead to muscle cramping.

7. Dry and Itchy Skin

Two of the main roles of the kidneys are to keep your bones strong and to maintain proper levels of minerals in the blood. Dry and itchy skin occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to regulate the balance of nutrients and minerals, and is indicative of a mineral and bone disease that can occur in advanced cases of kidney disease.

Make an Appointment

At Durham Nephrology, our team is experienced in providing treatment and guidance to kidney patients. Our physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating chronic kidney disease, or any other issues with the kidneys. If you have questions or concerns about your kidneys or any related symptoms of kidney disease, call us at 919-477-3005 to talk to a staff member and make an appointment.


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