Kidney Disease

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Signs and symptoms

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can progress silently over many years, with no signs or symptoms or with ones that are too general for a person to suspect as related to kidney function. For that reason, blood and urine tests are important to allow the detection of blood or protein in the urine and/or abnormal levels of certain waste products in the blood, such as creatinine and urea. The accumulation of these waste products in the blood is a sign of kidney dysfunction. The following problems may, however, be warning signs of kidney disease and should not be ignored. Prompt medical attention is required when any of these are present:

  • Swelling or puffiness, particularly around the eyes or in the face, wrists, abdomen, thighs or ankles
  • Urine that is foamy, bloody, or coffee-coloured
  • A decrease in the amount of urine or the development of a need to pass far more urine especially at night
  • Problems urinating, such as a burning feeling or abnormal discharge during micturition
  • Mid-back pain (flank), below the ribs, near where the kidneys are located
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)especially when this is resistant to treatment

As kidney disease worsens, symptoms may include:

  • Urinating more or less often
  • Feeling itchy
  • Tiredness, loss of concentration
  • Loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swelling and/or numbness in hands and feet
  • Darkened skin
  • Muscle cramps

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a sudden loss of kidney function and can be fatal. It requires prompt treatment. Symptoms may include:

  • Urinating less frequently
  • Fluid retention, causing swelling in the legs, ankles or feet
  • Drowsiness, fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Seizures or coma
  • Chest pain

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