According to the National Kidney Foundation, 30 million people in the United States have kidney disease. Astoundingly, only 10 percent of those living with chronic kidney disease know they have it. Often, the symptoms of this life threatening condition don’t show up until the very late stages of the disease when your kidneys are failing or when your urine consists of large amounts of protein. These signs are also commonly attributed to other medical problems.
If you’ve already celebrated your 60th birthday or have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure, getting tested for kidney disease annually is important. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms. They’re often signals your kidneys need help.
Low Energy Level
A severe loss of kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins and impurities in your blood. When this occurs, you might feel tired, experience weakness, and have difficulty concentrating. Healthy kidneys produce the hormone erythropoietin, EPO. EPO alerts your body to manufacture oxygen-transporting red blood cells. When kidneys fail, they make less EPO. With a decreased number of red blood cells to carry oxygen, your brain and muscles tire extremely quickly. This condition, known as anemia, is treatable.
Feeling the urge to urinate more often, especially at night, can be a symptom of kidney disease. Damaged kidney filters can increase the frequency of urination. You might also expel larger amounts of urine when you visit the bathroom. Kidney disease can also cause the color of your urine to appear pale, foamy, or bubbly.
Lack of Appetite
As toxins accumulate in your blood due to kidney failure, losing your appetite is a possibility. Food can take on a metallic taste. You might also experience bad breath. Some people battling kidney disease even start to dislike the taste of meat. When kidney disease diminishes people’s desire to eat, they often lose weight.
Swollen Feet and Ankles
When your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, your body can begin retaining sodium. Sodium retention may cause uncomfortable swelling in your feet and ankles. However, swelling in your lower extremities might also be a symptom of other medical problems such as heart disease, liver disease, or chronic leg vein issues. In addition to swollen feet and ankles, some kidney disease sufferers notice puffiness around their eyes.
Severe deterioration of kidney function results in metabolic wastes building up to extreme levels in the blood stream. Electrolyte balances can ensue. For instance, people might experience decreased calcium levels or poorly controlled phosphorus amounts. When these events occur, damage to muscles can lead to muscle twitches, cramps, and weakness.
When filtering wastes from the blood to make urine, healthy kidneys usually retain the blood cells in the body. However, if your kidneys’ filters are compromised, blood cells begin to show up in your urine. Blood can cause your urine to appear red, brown, or even purple. Besides signaling kidney disease, the presence of blood in your urine can be a symptom of an infection, kidney stones, or tumors.
Healthy kidneys help manufacture red blood cells, extricate wastes and excessive fluid from your body, help to keep your bones strong, and work to maintain the perfect balance of minerals in your body. Itchy and dry skin is a sign of the buildup of waste and mineral and bone disease that often accompanies advanced kidney disease.
Because kidney function plays such a significant role in your overall health, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible if you’re experiencing one or more of the aforementioned symptoms. The odds of succumbing to kidney disease increase if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
To keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check, strive to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. When beginning a fitness regimen, don’t overdo it. Overexerting yourself if you’re not in shape can actually put a strain on your kidneys. So, ease into working out slowly.
Smoking can reduce blood flow in your kidneys. Your kidneys can’t function at optimum levels without sufficient blood flow. Using tobacco products also skyrockets your chances of getting high blood pressure or kidney cancer. Therefore, protecting your kidneys is another valid reason to quit using tobacco products today.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen and naproxen can lead to kidney damage if you take them regularly over a long period of time. If you take NSAIDS for arthritis or another chronic condition, you should have your doctor monitor your kidney function periodically. Taking smart steps to protect your kidneys now may improve the longevity and quality of your life later.
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