First signs of kidney damage
Many people are living with kidney disease and most don’t know about it. “There are a number of physical signs of kidney damage, but sometimes people attribute them to other conditions. Also, those with kidney disease tend not to experience symptoms until the very late stages, when the kidneys are failing or when there are large amounts of protein in the urine. This is one of the reasons why only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it,”
Its advised that One should always visit a Nephrologist and clarify his/her doubts. Most especially if you have hypertension, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome or Coronary Artery Disease it is advisable to get kidney tests done on a regular basis.
While the only perfect way to diagnose a kidney damage is to get confirmatory tests done, here are first signs of kidney damage:
One of the first signs of kidney damage is the appearance of swelling over the ankles, feet or legs: One will start to notice edema at these sites which pits on applying pressure and is termed as pitting edema. As the kidney function begins to fall there is sodium retention which causes swelling in your shin and ankles. In short, any person noting new-onset pedal edema should get an immediate evaluation of his/her renal function after visiting a nephrologist.
Periorbital Edema: It denotes swelling or puffiness around eyes caused by the accumulation of fluid in the cells or tissues. It is one of the first signs of a kidney damage. It is especially prominent in individuals where there is a leakage of a significant amount of protein via the kidney. Loss of protein from the body decreases the intravascular oncotic pressure and leads to extravascular accumulation of fluid in various sites like around the eyes.
Weakness: Early fatigability is almost always a universal symptom of kidney disease. As renal dysfunction progresses this symptom becomes more prominent. it will make you feel more tired or exhausted than on normal days and will be unable to perform more activities. This is largely due to the accumulation of toxins and impurities in the blood, resulting from poor kidney function. Being a non-specific symptom it is often ignored by most of the people and not thoroughly investigated.
Decreased appetite: Secondary to the accumulation of toxins like urea, creatinine, acids, the appetite of an individual is suppressed. Also, as kidney damage advances, there is a change of taste, often described as metallic by the patients. If one gets the feeling of early satiety in spite of barely having anything during the day, it should raise alarm bells in one’s mind and one should get his or her renal function evaluated.
Early morning nausea and vomiting: Another one of the earliest signs of worsening renal function in the presence of early morning nausea, it is often classically described as hitting the person when he or she goes to the bathroom in the morning for brushing his or her teeth. It also contributes to the poor appetite of the individual. At end-stage renal failure, the patient tends to have multiple episodes of vomiting and complete loss of appetite.
Anemia: Haemoglobin level starts to fall, one might look pale, without any apparent site of blood loss from the body. It is one of the common complications of kidney damage. This can also cause weakness and fatigue. The cause of anemia is multifactorial which includes low Erythropoietin levels (Erythropoietin being synthesized in the kidney), low iron levels, toxin accumulation causing bone marrow suppression to name a few.
Changes in urine : One has to keep a very careful watch on his or her urine output. For instance, the urinary output may decrease or you may feel the need to urinate more often, especially at night (termed as nocturia). It can be a warning sign and may indicate that the kidney filtering units are damaged or in the process of being damaged. Sometimes this can also be a sign of some urinary tract infection or enlarged prostate in men. Thus, a change (increase or decrease) in the urine output should be reported immediately to your nephrologist.
Dry and itchy skin: Dry and itchy skin can be a sign of advanced kidney disease. As the renal function falls, toxins tend to accumulate in the body leading to itchy, dry and foul-smelling skin.
Backache or abdomen pain: Pain in back, side or below the ribs can be an early symptom of kidney disorder like renal calculus or pyelonephritis. Similarly, lower abdomen pain can be associated with bladder infection or stone in a ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder). Such symptoms should not be ignored.
High Blood Pressure: A presenting sign of kidney damage may be high blood pressure. Any person being diagnosed with hypertension must have a detailed workup of renal functions and kidney imaging to rule out renal etiology of hypertension. As kidney function deteriorates there are sodium and water retention leading to high blood pressure. Symptoms of hypertension include headache, abdominal pain, visual blackouts and maybe the early presenting symptoms of kidney disease.
Tips to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy:
There are several ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.
- Balance your lifestyle properly by taking a restful night’s sleep of at least 8 hours a day. A good night’s sleep is essential to remain healthy.
- Quit Smoking
- Get kidney function tests
- Check blood sugar levels regularly
- Maintain appropriate bodyweight
- Low sodium/salt diet
- Drink plenty of water
Extracted from: NARAYANAHEALTH