By Dr Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
The problem with kidney disease is that symptoms usually occur in the late stages only. Only when the kidneys are failing already do patients complain of symptoms.
Hence, people should be on the alert for kidney disease. If you have risk factors for kidney disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, older than age 60, it’s important to have a kidney check-up. Blood tests and urinalysis can detect kidney problems early.
Here are 7 possible signs of kidney disease:
- Feeling tired all the time and have trouble concentrating – Those with more severe kidney disease can have a buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood. This will result in weakness and tiredness. Even your mental function is compromised. Many patients with kidney disease also develop anemia, which can cause fatigue.
- Dry and itchy skin – Healthy kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. Kidneys also help make red blood cells and keep your bones strong. When the kidneys start to fail, there is imbalance of minerals and nutrients in your blood. Hence causing the dry and itchy skin.
- Blood in your urine as seen by having pinkish urine – When there is blood in the urine, the urine color rarely turns red. It is usually of a pinkish color. This problem can be due to tumors, kidney stones or an infection. In addition, those with kidney disease have problems in filtering the blood cells in the body, hence some of these blood cells leak out in the urine.
- Urinating more often initially, then later on decreasing urine output – This can be due to urinary infection or prostate enlargement. However, those with kidney disease also tend to urinate more often. When the kidneys filters are damaged, this can lead you to urinate more often. However, those with severe kidney disease have a decrease in urine output. Finally, no urine comes out in end-stage kidney failure leading to the need for dialysis and/or kidney transplant.
- Excessive bubbles in the urine – When a person develops kidney disease, protein leaks out in the urine. This causes the urine to be bubbly and foamy. It is normal to have some bubbles in the urine that goes away after a few minutes. However, if the urine is persistently foamy and bubby, then this could be a sign of kidney disease.
- Puffiness around the eyes and face – With worsening kidney disease, the kidneys leak a large amount of protein in the urine. This can cause fluid to leak out of the blood vessels into the nearby tissues, leading to the puffiness of the eyes and face.
- Swollen feet and ankles – Leg swelling can be a sign of heart disease, liver disease and leg vein problems. However, it can also be a sign of kidney failure. Poor kidney function can lead to sodium retention, causing swelling of the feet and ankles. In late stages, the person does not urinate anymore, causing fluid to accumulate in the body.
If you have any of these warning signs, it is best to consult your doctor. A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in kidney disease.
Finally, 3 simple prevention tips for the kidneys are:
- Reduce your salt intake.
- Make sure your blood pressure and blood sugar are under control. Take maintenance medications if necessary.
- Avoid taking too much pain relievers.
A healthy and clean lifestyle will go a long way in prevent many medical problems. Take care.