Are Your Kidneys Healthy? 6 Warning Signs to Look Out For
What is the function of the kidney?
Did you know that your kidneys are your body’s primary filtration system? These fist-sized organs clean your blood and rid your body of unnecessary waste. Once your blood flows into the kidneys and excess fluids and toxins are filtered out, your blood returns to the bloodstream, while the wastes pass out of the body through urine.
Several factors could cause waste to build up in your blood, such as your diet, pre-existing kidney damage, or diabetes. Suppose you have a condition that impacts your kidneys. In that case, they likely can’t filter out toxins efficiently, which can cause even more damage and lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), if left untreated. Pay close attention to your physical health, and listen to your body if it begins to impact your daily life.
What are the signs of kidney problems?
These six symptoms of kidney problems may suggest that your kidneys may be in danger:
#1. Exess Stress
Stress can raise several health concerns, including an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These symptoms don’t necessarily mean your kidneys are in danger, but it can certainly increase your chances of kidney damage.
Suppose you experience high levels of stress regularly or have a history of cardiovascular events in your family. In that case, you may benefit from talking to your doctor about assessing or monitoring your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This test can help determine how hard your kidneys are working to clean your blood. In addition to testing your GFR levels, talk to your doctor about finding the right stress management plan to help keep your health in check.
#2. Constant Trips to the Restroom
Damaged kidneys may cause an increased urge to urinate due to infection or excess fluids in your body. Foamy or bubbly urine may signify increased protein in your system, and blood in your urine could be due to ruptured blood cells. Any of these symptoms could lead back to your kidney health.
If your day is disrupted by frequent trips to the restroom, if you experience chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs), or experience any of the discomforts listed above while urinating, see your doctor about your kidneys and schedule a creatinine urine test. If your test shows an abnormal amount of creatinine in your blood – a waste product produced by our muscles – your doctor will be able to suggest the right high creatinine level treatment.
#3. Distraction or Fatigue
If you feel fatigued regularly, it may be a sign something isn’t right in your kidneys due to a build-up of toxins in your blood. However, talk to your doctor first, as fatigue can be a symptom of numerous conditions. It can be caused by your diet and exercise routine, stress level, medical history, and mental health conditions.
If your kidneys aren’t able to filter wastes and fluids out of your bloodstream correctly, your body may begin feeling shaky or tired. If you start to notice that you feel weak and achy throughout the day, or if concentrating on tasks or conversations is difficult, talk to your doctor about whether this could be a sign of kidney damage.
#4. Swollen Legs, Feet, or Ankles
Kidney damage may cause water retention, resulting in swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles. While this could be a sign of other health conditions and isn’t exclusive to kidney damage, it still may be worth talking to your doctor.
If you notice your legs, feet, or ankles are swollen, and getting up to move around doesn’t provide relief, you could be retaining sodium in your body that your kidneys aren’t able to filter out.
#5. Dry or Irritated Skin
In addition to cleansing your blood of toxins and wastes, kidneys also help produce red blood cells, build strong bones, and regulate minerals throughout the body. If your kidneys aren’t able to keep the right balance of minerals and nutrients in your blood, you may show signs of skin irritation, such as redness or swelling. Dry and itchy skin can also accompany a bone and mineral disease that is often related to CKD.
It’s essential to listen to your body when things feel off. If detected early enough, these symptoms can be treated and resolved relatively easily. However, if they’ve persisted over time, your doctor may suggest alternative solutions.
#6. Chest Pain
Kidney disease is closely related to other cardiac conditions. When your blood contains too many toxins, your kidneys and heart have to work overtime to pump blood throughout the body and cleanse it properly.
If you’re feeling pain or tension in your chest, it’s essential to consult a doctor right away. You may be experiencing heart disease symptoms or a heart attack, significantly if the pain worsens with activity.
If you experience one or more of the symptoms listed above, talk to your doctor about your kidney health. By getting the right treatment plan, you can feel better and keep your kidneys functioning as well as they can.
About the Author
Jenny Hart is a health and wellness writer with a passion for travel, cycling and books. Her focus is topics related to the effects of aging on health and she is interested in research that can help people age better. When she isn't writing or travelling, she's traversing NYC with her two dogs Poochie and Ramone.
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