Failing kidneys is a severe medical condition with myriad possible causes and symptoms. Untreated can lead to kidney failure, dialysis, or even death. The symptoms of kidney failure can vary substantially depending on the individual. However, many individuals will experience some or all of the following symptoms: decreased appetite, diminished mental clarity, itchy skin in some cases (most often when urinating), lethargy, nausea, and vomiting. If you’re worried that your kidneys might fail, you need to take a step back and look at the signs.
Warning Signs Of Failing Kidneys
- Increased frequency of urination: Common symptoms of kidney failure are loose and frequent urination, usually accompanied by pain with the urination. The frequency of urination is a key to determining when you need to see your doctor, but it is not an ironclad symptom of failing kidneys. Everything from medication use to trauma can cause your body to increase its output and decrease urine volume.
- Blood in urine: Blood in the urine means something’s wrong somewhere in your kidneys or ureters, which are part of your urinary tract system. If a urinary tract infection creeps up on you for no apparent reason, you may be able to catch it early by checking for blood in the toilet bowl after a normal peeing session.
- Extreme thirst: This is a more common symptom of kidney failure than many people realize. It’s the body’s natural way of keeping the kidneys functioning properly and filtering waste, but if your kidneys stop doing that task, all that water and electrolytes will build up in your blood. Your body will then start to shed those vital resources through excess urination, causing dehydration and raising your risk for heart disease and heart failure.
- Weight loss: One of the easiest ways that kidneys fail is by becoming damaged or diseased. If that damage is ever so small, it can lead to a weakened kidney and thus thirst, urination problems, and weight loss. Yet whenever you think you’re just losing weight because of your healthy eating habits or because you’re especially active in the gym, take this one seriously. Kidney failure is a serious medical condition and should be taken seriously as well.
- Jaundice: This means yellowing of the skin, eyes, and whites of the eyes (jaundice), resulting from increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is a sign of increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a byproduct of hemoglobin breakdown and is normally found in the bile, but when hemoglobin gets damaged, it spills into the blood. If you are experiencing jaundice, see your doctor immediately because it can be serious if untreated. Jaundice is associated with problems with the liver and gallbladder and is most likely an effect of severe liver damage or cirrhosis.
- Nausea: This symptom is rather easy to miss when you look at all other symptoms listed above but should not be ignored at all. Your body will go to great lengths to keep your kidneys functioning properly, even if it means feeling nauseated.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness: If you experience lightheadedness or dizziness, it could be a sign that your blood pressure is dropping dramatically. In turn, this can put an extreme amount of stress on your heart and organs.
- Extreme fatigue: It’s hard to miss this symptom when it’s ever-present in your life. Fatigue is one of the most common signs of failing kidneys because it’s actually caused by kidney failure itself. The body will do whatever it can to lessen the effects of this condition, even if that means taking its toll on the rest of your body. If you’re feeling extremely fatigued or have decreased mental clarity or dizziness, these are all warning signs you need to investigate further.
- Weight gain: If you are gaining weight with no known cause or explanation for that weight gain, this is a warning sign for sure. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in your diet and lose track of what’s coming in and out of your system. Your doctor will be able to pinpoint exactly what might be causing you to put on weight rather than lose it once he/she has run a routine blood test through the hospital lab.
Never hesitate to see a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms. Sometimes, even with early diagnosis, kidney failure is still too advanced to treat successfully. If you have any of these symptoms, go get yourself checked out. The sooner you can treat and stop the progression of kidney failure; the better off everyone will be in the long run.