Symptoms of Kidney Diseases

· March 11, 2015

Did you know that the majority of individuals that suffer from kidney problems aren’t aware that they do?  This is because the first symptoms are nearly imperceptible.  Several years could go by from when symptoms of kidney failure begin to the appearance of kidney disease, which is not the same.  Let’s learn what the symptoms are for kidney disease in the following article.

Knowledge is power: signs that you could suffer from kidney problems

Doctors confirm that patients, whether aware about kidney disease or not, regardless of pain intensity, need to know the symptoms in order to act as soon as possible.  This will make treatment more effective and shorter lasting.  Below are the most common signs that an individual is suffering from kidney failure, which is why it is important that you pay attention.

If you suffer from at least two or three of these, you needn’t worry unnecessarily, but you should see your doctor so they can perform a blood and urine test.  Likewise, keep in mind that a lot of these symptoms are related not only to kidney problems, but it is good to know them anyway.


  • Change in urination: Whenever your kidneys fail, your urine changes.  You might wake up at night to go to the bathroom and your urine is foamy or bubbly, you might need to urinate more frequently or in smaller amounts, or your urine could be very light, or jut the opposite: you could go several hours without urinating, and then it is dark and bloody.  You might feel like you can’t wait or that it’s difficult to urinate, or you may feel tightness or a lot of pressure in the front part of the pelvis.
  • Swelling: when your kidneys aren’t working correctly, they cannot remove extra liquids, which is why they accumulate in the body.  This creates inflammation in the legs, ankles, hands and face.
  • Fatigue: When the kidneys are healthy, they produce a chemical known as erythropoietin.  This is responsible for the body creating red blood cells, which are in charge of transporting oxygen to the blood.  As your kidneys begin to fail, so does the body’s production of this hormone.  Then your muscles and mind grow tired more quickly than normal.  Patients have neither the energy nor the desire to do things, they sleep a lot, they feel exhausted, weak, and easily become winded.  This symptom could also be known as anemia, and is due to a lack of dietary iron.


  • Skin outbreaks or itching: waste in the blood is eliminated through the kidneys.  When they do not function correctly, it begins to accumulate in the blood stream, which could cause extreme itching beyond the skin, and which is felt in the muscles or bones.
  • Metallic taste in the mouth or ammonia-smelling breath: whenever waste accumulates in the blood (this is called uremia), the taste of food could change and cause bad bread.  Some patients realize that they no longer like the taste of meat, or they lose weight because they don’t feel like eating.  Throughout any moment of the day they have a bad taste in their mouth, which cannot be solved by brushing ones teeth, rinsing with mouth wash, chewing gum, etc.
  • Nausea and vomiting: once again, caused by uremia.  This could also cause loss of appetite, losing several pounds, and your stomach may not be able to tolerate food, liquid, nor medications.  You can’t keep anything down.
  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing.  This could be related to a lung dysfunction in two separate ways.  Firstly, because the excess fluid that they can’t eliminate begins to accumulate in the lungs, and secondly, because of anemia (lack of red blood cells to transport oxygen to the blood), could leave the body weakened and short of breath.  This can be experienced without performing any sort of exercise or effort, simply when sitting or lying down without doing anything else.
  • Being very cold regardless of the season: anemia could make an individual feel cold even when the environment is warm.  They wear heavy coats and have several blankets on their beds.  This is also not improved by drinking very warm tea or coffee, nor taking a warm  bath, even if with nearly boiling water.  This could happen in the summer with very high temperatures, and the individual may feel cold both at home, or while at work or in town.  Chills, numbness in the extremities, and cold sweats are also other related symptoms.
  • Dizziness and problems concentrating: Anemia caused by the kidneys failing, which is when the brain does not receive the oxygen it needs.  This could also make it difficult to remember something or to memorize things, dizziness, poor concentration regardless of the task, being distracted, short attention span while talking, etc.  Not being able to remember what you did the previous week, the name of someone you know, feeling dizzy all the time, etc.

kidney pain

  • Back pain: some people that suffer from kidney failure don’t realize it because they attribute this pain to a heavy effort they made, poor work posture or sleeping bad at night.  However, if the pain continues this is a sign of something else.  Discomfort, pinching or even cramps develop in the lower part of the back or side of the body.  Sometimes the pain can reach one or both legs.  If the patient suffers from polycystic kidneys (which is when the kidneys or liver have an accumulation of cysts), they too could experience significant back pain.
Photos courtesy of wonderferret, Hey Paul Studios, MilitaryHealth and Betsy Weber.