Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Kidney failure, also sometimes known as renal failure or renal insufficiency, is a condition in which the kidneys fail in filtering the toxins and waste products from the blood and flushing them from the system as urine as they are intended to do. There are two different forms of kidney failure, those being acute and chronic, and there are many other health problems related to these conditions.

There are many symptoms of kidney failure, and these also vary between individual cases. In some cases at the early stages of kidney failure an individual may not feel sick or notice symptoms at all. However when they fail to properly filter, this will cause a waste to accumulate in the blood and the rest of the body known as ‘azotaemia’. As the amount of azotaemia increase, this can cause more visible symptoms. Other substances can also build up in the blood as a result of kidney failure and cause a range of different symptoms – such as a build up of urea, phosphates, potassium or other problems. The following are a few symptoms of kidney failure categorised by their precise cause.

High amounts of urea in the blood causes:

  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (and dehydration as a result of this)
  • Weight loss
  • Peeing during the night
  • Bubbly urine
  • More or less urination than normal
  • Blood in the urine (also a sign of potential kidney stones)
  • Pain or difficulty when urinating

High amounts of phosphates as caused by kidney failure can result in:

  • Itching
  • Bone damage
  • Muscle cramps
  • Hypoglycaemia

A build up of potassium results in:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Muscle spasms/paralysis

Excess fluid can cause:

  • Swelling around the legs, ankles, feet or hands
  • Shortness of breath (due to fluid on the lungs)
  • Anemia

Other symptoms of kidney failure are related to other aspects of the condition. Should cysts form on the kidneys for example this can cause pain in the lower back/side where the kidneys are located. The kidneys will also stop producing as much of the hormone erythropoietin which stimulates bone marrow to create red blood cells which carry the oxygen around our body. This results in tiredness/malaise, memory problems, lack of concentration, dizziness and low blood pressure (also caused by the build up of fluids). You might also find that you experience darkening of the skin, difficulty in sleeping and a persistent bad taste.

Due to the complicated nature of kidney failure it can look like many other conditions and it can be hard to identify the problem as kidney failure yourself. If you exhibit any combination of these symptoms, and particularly if they include frequent urination, localised pain in the kidneys, a bad taste in the mouth, malaise and darkening of the skin; then you may be experiencing kidney failure and you should get immediate medical attention.

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