home > disease symptoms > kidney failure symptoms - do i have kidney disease?
Kidney Failure Symptoms - Do I Have Kidney Disease?
Posted Monday, March 20, 2006E-mail this page Printer-friendly page
Kidney failure is a growing problem across the world.
What are Kidneys for?
Your Kidneys are are two fist-sized organs that occupy the back portion of your abdominal cavity. Your Kidneys do a number of different things for you and you can not live without them.
The primary things the Kidneys do are:
What causes Kidney Failure?
Your kidneys are designed to last you for your entire life. There are a few things, however, that can damage your kidneys over time. The most common reasons for people to develop kidney failure is due to Diabetes or High Blood Pressure. Over time, both of these diseases can be very hard on your kidneys and cause them to gradually lose function.
Other causes of kidney failure include certain medications, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, inflammation of the kidneys and many others.
Symptoms of Kidney Failure?
Unfortunately, kidney failure can have very few symptoms to begin with. As your kidney function declines, it will first be detected on blood tests by your doctor. Most people don't feel any effects of kidney failure during the early stages.
As kidney failure progresses, you start to develop symptoms related to losing the normal functions the kidneys perform.
Since your kidneys also allow you to get rid of extra fluid, you may notice the buildup of fluid - usually in your legs at first. This swelling can cause you to gain water weight and can be difficult to get rid of without medications.
Also, if your kidneys aren't working, you won't be able to make red blood cells and you will become anemic (low blood count). Anemia alone can make you feel very tired and weak.
Finally, as the waste products build up, you can start to feel tired, weak, and confused. Your appetite may decline and you may start losing weight. Some people notice a metallic taste in their mouth, while others can feel very nauseous and start vomiting. These symptoms typically don't start, however, until you are very close to losing all your kidney function and will need to start kidney replacement treatments (dialysis).
What can I do?
Recommendations should be tailored individually so you should talk to your doctor about specific treatments. Some causes of kidney failure have very specific treatments that may have their own risks.
In general, taking your medications consistently and controlling both your High Blood Pressure and/or Diabetes (if you have it) will be the best way to slow down any worsening of your kidney disease.
Unfortunately, even with your best efforts, kidney failure is typically a progressive disease, and many people's kidneys will continue to get worse.
What if your Kidneys Fail?
If your kidney function gets so bad that you start developing many of the symptoms described above, you will need to start on something called Dialysis.
Dialysis is a way to replace some of the things the kidney does for you. Specifically, it helps remove extra fluid from your body and remove the waste products that have been building up.
The dialysis procedure typically takes place 3 times a week for about 4 hours at a time. Patients go to Dialysis units near where they live on this regular schedule and get connected to the Dialysis Machine. The dialysis machine cleans your blood and takes off extra fluid. These treatments, while time consuming, are generally well tolerated and are not painful or uncomfortable. People can lead relatively normal lives while on dialysis treatments.
As you approach the need for dialysis, kidney transplantation is also an option for many individuals. Again, you need to talk to your doctor about the appropriateness of this treatment option.