The kidneys are one of the most vital organs of the body. This pair of organs located above the waist and at the back of the body has 3 primary functions. One – they eliminate waste and toxins from the body thereby cleaning the blood and keeping the person healthy. Two – they help maintain electrolytic balance in the body and regulate BP. Thirdly; they are required to make red blood cells. The kidneys are source of a hormone called erythropoietin, which signals the bone marrow to produce RBC.
In a healthy person, these functions go on normally, while in some people, for various reasons, these functions are hampered. If undetected, the condition accelerates rapidly, leading to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and kidney failure. That is why it’s important to recognize the signs of Kidney failure so that one can receive treatment at the earliest.
Before we list the symptoms of CKD, let’s understand the types of CKD.
Types of CKD
There are 5 types of CKD:
- Acute prerenal kidney failure: A decreased blood flow to the kidneys prevent the kidneys from filtering toxins efficiently
- Chronic prerenal kidney failure: When the above condition continues for a longer period of time.
- Acute intrinsic kidney failure: Caused by physical impact to the kidneys resulting in severe bleeding, toxin build-up or ischemia or insufficient oxygen to the kidneys.
- Chronic intrinsic kidney failure: When the above condition continues for a longer period of time.
- Chronic post-renal kidney failure: When the urinary tract is blocked for a long-term, proper urination does not happen creating pressure and damage to the kidneys.
Signs and Symptoms of CKD
- Chronic fatigue: Since there are fewer red blood cells available to carry oxygen, the person suffers from anaemia . As a result, he/she feels tired and wants to sleep all the time.
- Feeling cold for no reason: Even if the weather is hot or warm, the person feels cold or chilly to the point of shivering.
- Shortness of breath: CKD causes fluid to build-up in several parts of the body, including lungs. This and the shortage of oxygen-carrying RBC makes the person short of breath even after slight exertion.
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or weak: The anaemic condition results in reduced blood supply to all parts of the body including the brain, hence the person feels light-headed or weak all the time.
- Memory loss or incoherent thinking: Directly related to the above symptom, persons with CKD start suffering from memory loss, inability to concentrate, and appear confused quite often.
- Itches and skin rashes: Since the kidneys are not eliminating waste efficiently now, toxins start building up in the bloodstream, leading to severe itching, rashes and hives like condition.
- Swelling in hands or feet: Due to CKD, the kidneys are not removing the extra fluid from the body, which then builds up in the arms and legs causing swelling all over. Patients may struggle to fit into their clothes or footwear
- Swollen or puffy face: Directly related to the above, fluid can also build up in the face leading to a swollen and puffy face. Also, touching or lightly pressing this swelling can hurt.
- Food tastes weird: Toxins start building up in the blood, a condition called Uraemia. This causes loss of appetite in the person, and further, the food tastes weird, like metal. Meat eaters no longer enjoy the taste of meat.
- Foul breath: Uraemia also causes foul breath in the person. Patients and their family members have said that their breath smells like ammonia or rotting fish.
- Stomach upsets: In addition to weight loss, appetite loss and foul breath, uraemia also causes stomach upsets, severe nausea and vomiting. Patients do not feel like consuming anything, including medicines.
- Frequent urination in the night: Failing kidneys means the urine flow is no longer regulated and highly erratic now. As a result, the person gets up frequently in the night but manages to urinate a few drops only, every time.
- Pressure while urinating: As a direct result of the above, patients feel immense pressure in their groin area and discomfort. Patients feel like there is a lot of urine build-up, as only a few drops are eliminated every time.
- Foamy or bubbly urine: Due to improper removal of wastes, some proteins gets into the urine, the most common form being albumin, which is also found in eggs. As a result, the urine starts frothing, similar to the frothing when eggs are beaten.
- Brown, red, or purple urine: CKD can result in bleeding and blood loss gets into the urine. As a result, the patient may notice dark coloured urine, the colour of which varies from person to person.