What are the Warning Signs of Kidney Failure?

As early as elementary school, we were already taught about the important functions of our kidneys, which are bean-shaped and fist-size organs found near the middle of our back, just below our rib cage. We were told that the kidneys remove waste products and excess water from our body. They clean our blood and maintain the proper balance of ions in our body. In addition to these functions, the kidneys are also involved in Vitamin D production, control of red blood cell production, and regulation of blood pressure.

With all those functions of our kidneys, anyone can tell what will happen to our health and well-being when the organs fail. Kidney failure, which may cause death, can be due to kidney damage or disease. Poisoning and mechanical forces (e.g. forceful blow to the kidneys) can badly damage the kidneys making them unable to perform their tasks. Moreover, kidney disease can be caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, glomerular disease, and inherited disorders like polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

When the kidneys fail, waste materials, salts, and excess water will build up in the body, a condition that is fatal when not given immediate medical attention.

There are warning signs observed in people whose kidneys are failing. Knowing these warning signs is indispensable in the early treatment of kidney failure. Let us learn the different warning signs of kidney failure.

Warning Signs

  • Change in urination – abnormal lack of urination
  • Loss of appetite, accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in legs, arms, face,  hands, feet, eyelids, and other body parts – due to the buildup of water in the body as a result of the kidneys’ inability to filter the blood and remove excess water
  • Faster heart rate – the heart needs to catch up with the increased volume of blood in the circulation
  • Cognitive symptoms such as confusion and anxiety
  • Anemia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood in urine
  • Fatigue or feeling tired
  • Severe itching not related to rash or bite

References & Further Reading

  • National Kidney Foundation: How Your Kidneys Work
  • The Kidneys and How They Work: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)
  • American Association of Kidney Patients