idney health isn’t something we should sweep under the carpet or treat with levity. While it may not come as the first thought, the extreme tiredness and excess urination could be signs that something is definitely up with the two beans-looking organs in your body. The ugly truth about kidney failure is that it often creeps up on people, showing little to no warning until it becomes a serious issue. Hence, the reason it’s necessary to study our bodies and notice even the slightest changes.
Functions of the kidney
Let’s start by understanding the incredible role our kidneys play in our bodies. These two small bean-shaped organs are responsible for crucial functions like filtering waste and excess fluids from our blood, maintaining electrolyte balance, regulating blood pressure, and producing essential hormones. Due to the importance of this organ, when it begins to fail, it can greatly disrupt a person’s life.
Causes of kidney failure
Some of the causes of kidney failure include:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney infections
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Kidney stone
- Congenital kidney problems
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression
Check out 10 sure-fire signs that your kidney may be failing…
Do you feel extremely tired often, and it doesn’t improve with rest? This could be a sign of a failing kidney. Our kidneys help regulate the production of erythropoietin — a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. One of the signs your kidneys are failing is that they may produce less of this hormone, leading to anemia (a shortage of red blood cells), which can lead to fatigue.
#2. Nausea and vomiting
Persistent feelings of nausea and frequent vomiting, unrelated to food eaten, can be a sign of kidney failure. This is because an accumulation of waste products and toxins in the bloodstream, which failing kidneys cannot effectively filter out, can lead to nausea and vomiting. These toxins can irritate the stomach lining, triggering these symptoms.
#3. Excessive urination
This is a popular sign. As kidney function declines, they may lose the ability to concentrate urine properly. This can lead to increased urine production, causing frequent urination, especially at night.
#4. Blood in urine
A healthy kidney has tiny filters called nephrons. Nephrons filter out waste and excess substances from the blood. When the nephrons are damaged, blood cells may leak into the urine, causing hematuria (blood in the urine).
#5. Dry skin
Kidneys help regulate mineral balance in the body, including calcium and phosphorus. If this balance is disrupted as a result of kidney failure, it can cause dry, itchy skin, as well as other skin problems. While dry skin isn’t always penned down as one of the common signs your kidney is failing, it is a huge factor that shouldn’t be overruled, especially when accompanied by other symptoms.
#6. Swollen feet
One of the jobs of the kidneys is maintaining fluid balance in the body. When they are failing, they cannot properly eliminate excess fluids. This leads to edema (body swelling), particularly in the feet and ankles.
#7. Inability to sleep
Disrupted sleep patterns can be related to several symptoms of kidney failure, including restless legs syndrome, nighttime urination (nocturia), and anemia-induced fatigue.
#8. Muscle cramps
Electrolyte imbalances, particularly a decrease in potassium levels (hypokalemia), can result from kidney dysfunction. This can lead to muscle cramps and weakness.
#9. Breathlessness and foggy brain
Fluid retention causes shortness of breath and the buildup of waste products which affect brain function, causing cognitive impairment and a “foggy” feeling.
#10. Loss of appetite
Accumulation of waste products and toxins in the body can affect the sense of taste and appetite, leading to a loss of interest in food.
How do I diagnose a failing kidney?
Diagnosing kidney failure is done by a doctor and involves urine tests to detect protein or blood, as well as imaging tests like ultrasounds and CT scans to assess kidney condition. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately.
How do I treat kidney failure?
Treatment options vary depending on the cause and severity of kidney failure. This may include dietary changes, medication, dialysis, or a kidney transplant. However, managing underlying sicknesses, such as diabetes and hypertension, is effective in preventing further kidney damage.
Featured image: Rabizo/iStock
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