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Do You Have Symptoms of Kidney Failure?

Many people may be in the early stages of kidney disease and not have any indication something is wrong with their kidneys. There are certain symptoms, however, that could be a sign you have kidney failure, whether it is acute renal failure or hereditary such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD). When kidney failure (also called renal failure) is detected in the early stages, there are steps you can take to help slow the progression of kidney disease and improve your quality of life.

Below are lists of kidney failure symptoms that are grouped in categories based on a typical cause. If you have any of these renal failure symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible and ask that your kidneys be checked.

Kidney failure symptoms from buildup of wastes in the body

  • A metallic taste in the mouth or ammonia breath
  • Protein aversion (no longer wanting to eat meat)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itchiness (pruritis)

Kidney failure symptoms from buildup of fluid in the body

  • Swelling in the face, feet or hands
  • Shortness of breath (from fluid in the lungs)

Kidney failure symptoms from damage to the kidneys

  • Making more or less urine than usual
  • Blood in the urine (typically only seen through a microscope)
  • Urine that is foamy or bubbly (may be seen when protein is in the urine)

Kidney failure symptoms from anemia

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Mental confusion
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Desire to chew ice, clay or laundry starch (called pica)

To determine if the symptoms you have are because of kidney failure, your doctor will perform specific tests:

  • Urinalysis – An examination of a sample of your urine to check for protein, blood and white blood cells in the urine
  • Blood tests – Particularly a test for creatinine and BUN, waste products that healthy kidneys remove from the bloodstream.

Take action when you have kidney failure symptoms

Often, early kidney problems don't have many symptoms—but if you are experiencing any of the ones mentioned above, you will want to your doctor to determine if your signs are caused by kidney failure. Write down any of the renal failure symptoms you may have and bring that information with you to your next doctor’s appointment. Whether you discover that your kidneys are okay or if you learn you have kidney problems, knowing about it sooner may ease your mind and allow you to take steps to slow the progress of kidney disease, including delay or prevent dialysis or a kidney transplant. To help your loved ones determine if they're at risk, send them an e-Card encouraging them to take the Kidney Disease Risk Quiz today.