One of the most vital organs within the body, your kidneys are the filters that keep your entire system, blood and other organs free of most toxins. These organs are bean shaped and lay close to your back right under the rib cage. All the toxins that are filtered by the kidneys are passed out of the body as urine, which stays in your bladder until it is passed out of the body.
The Stress on Kidneys
The kidneys have to filter a whole lot of toxins from your body on a daily basis and are under constant stress from all the daily activities that you may undertake. Many people thus do have some form of chronic kidney disease or kidney problems, which they may not be aware of. However it is rare for a large majority where chronic kidney disease or CKD may deteriorate and cause greater kidney damage. In fact studies have shown that even people with stage 3 CKD will live out their lives without their kidneys failing about 80 percent of the time.
However, there are warning signs that you should look out for to ensure that you don’t fall into the 20 percent who are at greater risk of kidney failure. Some of the signs are quite obvious while some of them may not be so. The best defense against any form of kidney disease is to go for regular medical checkups and to look out for noticeable changes in your body.
- Basic Symptoms – Changes in urination
Kidneys filter all the toxins from your body through urine and thus problems caused will first be noticeable with changes in patterns of urination. Some of the points you should look out for are mentioned here.
- Untimely urination – For example, if you are used to getting up at night to urinate but that has suddenly stopped in the past few weeks or months, this could be a symptom that the change is brought on by a problem within the kidneys. Inversely, if you are not used to urinating during the night and suddenly have started to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night it could signal similar problems as mentioned before.
- Too little or too much urine – The frequency or the number of times you go to the bathroom may also change quite drastically. You may go to the bathroom many more times than usual or may go much lesser than usual. Also the amount of urine you pass may be more or less than usual. Many patients have even complained that they were unable to pass all of the urine which led to a feeling of tightness in their lower abdomen.
- The colour and Viscosity of urine – your urine may change colour and in rare cases may even appear foamy or have bubbles. In most cases the urine tends to become dark in colour, anywhere in between orange to red to dark brown. You may also see red due to blood being passed along with urine. In such cases it is advisable that you immediately visit your doctor.
- Swelling in various body parts
This is possible the most common outward physical manifestation of kidney trouble. You may see that certain parts of your body, especially the extremities may swell up. It is more apparent in your feet and ankles. Your family may even notice a swelling in your face. Kidneys are meant to flush out toxins and also regulate the flow of water in your body. When the kidney is having trouble, fluid may thus build up in unwanted parts of your body which then results in the swelling.
- You are constantly tired or fatigued
This is one of the symptoms, which may manifest in many forms and is usually, but not always accompanied by the swelling in your feet or ankles. Many patients afflicted with kidney disease remember being very tired or fatigued all the time, even after getting ample rest.
Kidneys are responsible for making erythropoietin, which is the hormone in charge of the production of red blood cells. These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood to all part so the body. If the kidney is malfunctioning or is facing problems these cells won’t be produced. This will result in less oxygen reaching all your organs thus making you feel tired and fatigued all the time.
- The feeling of nausea and vomiting
The primary functions of the kidneys are to flush out toxins from the body. So, when the kidneys are not functioning normally, they tend to have reduced capacity to do this. This will lead to the buildup of toxins within the body, which it will try to get rid of through other means.
Thus you may feel nauseous as the toxins trigger a response within the body and then result in vomiting which is a method for the toxins to be flushed out of the body. The build of toxins within the body is medically known as uremia and may even lead to rapid weight loss.
- A constant requirement to scratch for a deep itch with or without rashes
As the kidneys fail to flush out toxins from your body, they build up not only within other organs but are transported all across within the blood stream. This will manifest on your skin and your body in general as an itch. This is something that you want to scratch badly, but may not be able to as you feel it is way deeper than just the surface of your skin.
In fact, many patients have complained that they feel as if the itch is coming from deep within the bones instead of their skin. This happens as uric acid along with other toxins build up within the body and cause irritation within the tissues. These may also manifest in the form of rashes on your skin. Topical treatments such as creams or lotions may not be effective in such cases.
- Back and leg pain
The physical manifestations of kidney problems may be differ from patient to patient although a common thread with leg and lower back pain has been noticed to be quite common. You may experience pain in the back of your legs anywhere from your waist down. Some people have even complained of back pain in and around the area where the kidney is located. However this doesn’t always occur in all types of kidney ailments. You could have back or leg pain due to kidney trouble in case of the following:
- Kidney infections – Although not as severe as major kidney diseases or CKD, it can be still be pretty painful and disruptive.
- PKD or Polycystic Kidney disease – This disorder causes the growth of cysts filled with fluids on your kidney which may even spread to your liver. These are especially painful and may cause back pain around the area where the kidneys are located.
- Kidney stones – A common occurrence, kidney stones can cause back and leg pain along with some of the other symptoms mentioned here.
- Medullary sponge kidney – This is a congenital (present from birth) disease of which leg and pack pain are the major symptoms.
- You have a funny or bad taste in your mouth constantly along with bad breath.
This is another symptom, which is related to the buildup of toxins within your body that can ideally be flushed out normally. This condition is a part of uremia as mentioned above where many toxins may accumulate within your body and thus alter your taste buds leaving you with a constant funny or bad taste in your mouth. Some of the specific symptoms with this may be:
- A severe loss of appetite
- A gradual development of dislike for any form of meat
- Sudden and rapid weight loss connected to the loss of appetite
- Metallic or iron like taste in the mouth
- In some cases rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
The development of the dislike for meat may actually be related to the consumption of meat before the onset of this condition. Meats, especially processed meats tends to cause the buildup of uric acid in the blood and many of the kidney problems have often been attributed to excess consumption of processed meat over prolonged periods of time.
Consult a Doctor
While some of the symptoms may be common with other non-threatening disorders, if you seem to have multiple of these together you should immediately visit your doctor. You can avail doctor consultations at home from Portea. It is also advisable that you ensure regular physical checkups, which will catch any problems at the beginnings and thus reduce the risk of permanent kidney damage in the long run.
Other precautions which you can take to safeguard against kidney ailments is to make life style changes such as cessation of smoking, following a balanced and healthy diet, regular exercise, alcohol consumption in moderation among others. You should be mindful that irreparable damage can be caused by bad habits over a prolonged period. Once the damage sets in it can be quite debilitating and often turns out to be fatal. It is very easy to prevent kidney damage in the long run by following some simple advice and cutting out bad habits and choices while implementing good ones.