10 Signs Your Kidneys are Suffering
The role of the kidneys in your body is crucial. Pair of bean-shaped kidneys is located with one at each side of the spinal column. They lie just below the lower end of your ribcage and are well protected in your abdomen. Each kidney is approximately the size of your fist.
The kidneys are your chief organs responsible for cleaning and filtration of blood. They do so by filtering up harmful wastes such as urea, toxins, and other chemicals by the formation of urine. Kidneys also adjust the blood pressure and keep the heart in good health. Other functions of kidneys include the regulation of bone strength and mineralization.
You should never ignore kidney-related problems. Chronic kidney disease or CKD is the 9th largest cause of death in the US, and kidney problems affect millions of people from around the globe. Statistics show that in America alone there are more than 26 million people with kidney problems, while most of them are unaware of the severity of their condition.
It is a well-known proverb that prevention is better than cure. Early detection of signs and symptoms can prevent major kidney disease in the future.
Today we are going to discuss the 10 most important red flags about kidney health that should not be overlooked. We will also talk about how you can detect warning signs and when it is necessary to see your doctor.
High blood pressure is scientifically justified as the most prevalent cause of kidney disease, especially for kidney failure. Because kidney function is interconnected with the regulation of blood vessels. Your blood pressure can deviate from normal values if there is a fluctuation in your kidney’s health. A constant spike in blood pressure levels can lead to strain on blood vessels. When this pressurized blood enters the kidneys, it damages the delicate network of tiny vessels inside your kidneys. This leads to a decrease in the ability of the kidneys to filter toxins and wastes from your blood. Harmful toxins start accumulating in the blood and result in kidney failures.
- Frequent Urination
If you feel the urge to empty your bladder more frequently as compared to others, then it can be a sign of poor kidney health. Research shows that urinating around 4 to 8 times in a 24-hour period or even 10 times a day is considered normal if you have a high liquid intake or you are using certain medications such as diuretics. But urination exceeding 10 times a day is considered abnormal. You should check with your urologist for a detailed discussion about your urinary habits and whether it is due to your kidneys.
- Back Pain
Back pain or lumbago is also a major indicator of your kidneys asking for help. It typically arises in the lower back region on each side of your waist. This may indicate trouble with your kidneys. The pain may radiate from the lower back into the front portion of your groin or towards the hip region as well. Sometimes, it may also transmit into your legs. These pains may be signs and symptoms of stones inside your kidneys or infections of the urinary tract. It may also indicate the occurrence of trauma inside your kidneys. In short, you may feel uncomfortable and sick characterized by fatigue, fever, and excessive urination. This however can be considered normal in case you have a history of back pain. Because kidney-related back pain appears usually without any obvious reasons and the usual pain killers often prove ineffective in this case, it is recommended that you pay a visit to your physician if you encounter unexpected back pain.
- Swelling around the Feet
Your kidneys also serve the purpose of balancing the concentration of salts such as potassium and sodium in your body. Kidneys excrete extra sodium and potassium from the body through urine. These salts are responsible for maintaining normal fluid levels in your whole body. The greater the salt concentration, the greater the retention of fluid in your body will be. When there is an issue with your kidneys, they fail to remove excess salts from your body. This ultimately results in the fluid build-up and painful swelling around lower regions of the body such as ankles and feet. Your hands and knees can also become swollen in some cases.
It may sound shocking but it is true that being out of breath can be a symptom of an underlying disease of the kidneys. Two factors govern the shortness of breath due to kidney malfunction. Factor number 1 is the fluid build-up due to the inability of the kidneys to remove extra sodium in the body. This fluid may travel into your lungs and cause lung edema, a condition characterized by excessive fluid in the lungs. Factor number 2 is anemia induced by poor kidney health. In anemia, your body lacks oxygen and you experience shortness of breath. Bear in mind, there can be various other reasons for shortness of breath, such as lung cancer, cardiac problems, or even allergies like asthma that have nothing to do with the kidneys. Visit your doctor if you experience any shortness of breath while performing normal physical activities.
- Lack of concentration and disruptive thinking
Yes, unhealthy kidneys can make you struggle while focusing or thinking about a particular thing or performing a certain task. According to The American Society of Neurology, poor kidney health is related to a decline in the cognitive abilities and thinking power of your brain. Because kidney malfunction results in toxin buildup, when these toxins reach your brain, they provoke a condition called Delirium. Delirium is a sudden change in the brain that results in mental and emotional disruption. It hinders the brain’s ability to critically reason, focus, and problem-solve. So don’t feel embarrassed to call your doctor if you feel your focus is lost.
- Dryness of the Skin
Itchy skin is a vital indicator of chronic kidney disease. Skin dehydration and itchiness are generally attributed to dermatological conditions such as dermatitis or it may also be due to harsh weather conditions. An unhealthy or malfunctioning kidney can result in the accumulation of high amounts of urea waste in the body. This urea toxin can cause uremic pruritis or itching of the skin, a common dilemma of patients having chronic kidney disease (CKD). Increased quantities of urea in the blood may also lead to end-stage kidney failure. Moreover, poor kidney health can disrupt vitamin balance in the body leading to severe itchiness. If you have constant dry or itchy skin, you should consult your doctor to rule out other skin conditions.
- Being Tired and Lightheaded
Feeling weak and dizzy can be an indicator that you may have underlying issues with your kidneys. If you feel lightheaded and fatigued most of the time then there is a possibility of you having a disorder called anemia.
Anemia is primarily the lack of oxygen in the body arising from insufficient red blood cells. Anemia is a prevailing symptom of patients with kidney disease. Your kidneys develop a hormone known as erythropoietin. This erythropoietin provokes your bone marrow to make new red blood cells to carry oxygen. A person with kidney problems will have reduced erythropoietin and hence fewer red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to the tissues. Common symptoms of anemia include faintness, fatigue, and dizziness or inability to concentrate. You may also experience a fast heartbeat, cramping of the legs, and yellowish or pale skin. Your doctor will examine the number of red blood cells in your body to diagnose anemia and the underlying kidney issues.
- 9. Feeling Chills in Summer
While fever is usually the culprit behind your shivering and chills during hot environments, surprisingly, it can be your kidneys as well. As we discussed earlier, improper kidney function is responsible for the increased buildup of urea wastes in your body. These uremic toxins lead to decreased internal body temperature or hypothermia. Your condition may worsen during the winter months and it may become extremely difficult to stay outdoors, even for short period of time. Anemia also comes as a side effect to kidney problems. This further exacerbates the problem during cold weather. You may also feel numbness and severe coldness in your hands and feet.
- Bloody Urine
Your kidneys act as a master filter for all the waste matter in your blood. A pair of kidneys filters around 200 liters of fluid in a single day. While they are designed to allow wastes to pass out through urine, they also stop blood cells from flowing out in the urine. An improperly functioning kidney can miss blood cells and as result, blood may appear in your urine. This phenomenon is called hematuria. Hematuria may or may not involve painful urination. You may experience a light red or brown color in your urine indicating kidney damage. Remember, there can be a variety of reasons why there is blood in your urine, like bladder infections or cysts in the urinary tract. High-intensity training can also lead to hematuria.
There are some foods such as beets, berries, rhubarb commonly famous for causing hematuria or beeturia. While blood in the urine is not necessarily linked to kidney malfunctioning, it may indicate some serious issues. So, don’t be late in contacting your doctor in case you notice a color shift in your urine. An early diagnosis can save you both health and wealth.
When should you see your Doctor?
Primarily a basic checkup on a regular basis is the key to early diagnosis of any disease or health disorder. Be honest and open with your physician about your conditions and speak to them clearly about your issue, no matter how sensitive it is. If you experience any uncommon ambiguity regarding your kidney health, consult your doctor right away.