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Preface and Contents

Symptoms of Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of kidney diseases vary from person to person. A lotdepends on the type of underlying disease and its severity. Symptoms are often, vague and non-specific, and therefore the disease is difficult to diagnose in the early stages.

Common symptoms of kidney diseases :

  • Swelling of the face Swelling of face, abdomen and feet, is a frequent presentation of kidney disease. One characteristic of swelling due to kidney disease is that it is usually noticed first below the eyelids (this is called periorbital edema) and is most noticeable in the morning.

    Kidney failure is a common and important cause of swelling. But one needs to bear in mind that swelling does not necessarily indicate kidney failure. In certain kidney diseases, despite normal kidney function , swelling still occurs (e.g. nephrotic syndrome). Equally important, is the fact that swelling may not be seen in some patients despite significant kidney failure.

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting Loss of appetite, abnormal taste in the mouth and poor food intake are common problems faced by a person with kidney failure. With worsening of kidney function, there is increased level of toxic substances, which leads to nausea, vomiting and occassionlly, intractable hiccups.
  • High blood pressure - Hypertension In patients with kidney failure, hypertension is common. If hypertension occurs at a young age (less than 30 years) or blood pressure is very high at the time of diagnosis, the reason may be that of a kidney disease.
Swelling of face below the eyelids (called periorbital edema) is the most common symptom of kidney diseases.
  • Anemia and weakness Generalized weakness, early fatigue, poor concentration and pallor are common complaints of a person with anemia (low hemoglobin level). At times these may be the only complaints of a person in the early stages of chronic kidney failure. If anemia does not respond to standard treatment, it is essential to rule out kidney failure.
  • Nonspecific complaints Low back pain, generalized body aches, itching and leg cramps are frequent complaints in kidney disease. Retardation of growth, short stature and bending of leg bones are common in children with kidney failure.
  • Urinary complaints
  • Common urinary complaints are :

    1. Reduction in urine volume, is very common in various kidney diseases.
    2. Burning sensation in urine (dysuria), frequent urination (frequency) and passing of blood or pus in urine are symptoms of urinary tract infection.
    3. Obstruction to the normal flow of urine can lead to difficulty in ‘voiding’ (passing urine), and poor stream of urine. In severe conditions, complete inability to pass urine can occur.

Although a person may have some of the above mentioned symptoms and signs, it does not necessarily mean that the person is suffering from kidney disease. However, in the presence of such symptoms, it is highly recommended to consult the doctor and to rule out any possibility of kidney disease and other systemic illnesses by blood and urine tests. It is important to remember that serious kidney problems may exist silently for a long period without significant symptoms andsigns.

Rule out underlying kidney diseases if severe hypertension is detected at a young age.