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What are the 3 early warning signs of kidney disease?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Kidney disease affects many people in the UK. Your kidneys, those bean-shaped organs near your spine, work hard to keep you healthy by filtering waste from your blood.

Kidney disease covers a range of conditions that mess with how your kidneys work. Things like diabetes, high blood pressure, or even certain medications can cause it. It progresses through stages, from mild to severe, and can lead to kidney failure if not caught early.

What are the first signs of kidney disease?

In the early stages of kidney disease, there usually aren’t any noticeable symptoms. This is because the body is often able to continue functioning well even when the kidneys aren’t working properly. 

Getting kidney disease diagnosed at an early stage can help you prevent it from getting worse.

Here are the common signs to watch out for:

  • Changes in your wee: Notice any shifts in your urination habits, like increased frequency, especially at night, or decreased urine output. Foamy or bubbly wee may signal the presence of protein, which should typically be filtered by the kidneys.

  • Fatigue and weakness: Decreased levels of erythropoietin in kidney disease can lead to anaemia, resulting in fatigue, weakness, and pale skin.

  • Swelling: Swelling, particularly in the hands, feet, ankles, or face, may indicate fluid accumulation in the body, known as oedema. This swelling may be more obvious in the morning.

  • Difficulty concentrating: Kidney dysfunction can affect brain function, leading to difficulty concentrating, memory problems, or experiencing mental fog.

  • Nausea and vomiting: The accumulation of waste products in your bloodstream can trigger nausea and vomiting, particularly after meals.

  • Muscle cramps: Electrolyte imbalances associated with kidney disease can cause muscle cramps, especially in your legs, or restless legs syndrome, characterised by an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, especially at night.

  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing, particularly with exertion, can indicate complications from kidney disease.

  • Blood in your wee: Visible blood in your urine, or urine that appears pink, red, or cola-coloured, should always be evaluated by your doctor.

  • Headaches: Frequent or severe headaches should be investigated, especially if they’re accompanied by other symptoms.

  • Erectile dysfunction: Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection may indicate underlying health issues, including kidney disease.

Frequently asked questions about kidney disease

What are the early signs of kidney disease?

Early signs of kidney disease include changes in urination, swelling, fatigue, and nausea. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment.

How can I tell if I have kidney problems?

Common indicators of kidney problems include changes in urination patterns, swelling in extremities, fatigue, nausea, and difficulty concentrating.

What are the common symptoms of kidney dysfunction?

Common symptoms of kidney dysfunction include changes in urination patterns, swelling in extremities, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, difficulty breathing, blood in urine, headaches, and erectile dysfunction in men.

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