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Kidney Disease Early Symptoms in Humans and How to Prevent Kidney Failure

Updated on May 21, 2020
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Philip Agutu has been writing for HubPages since 2017. He is a devoted Writer and Researcher on health articles. He loves to share info.

Kidney Function

Kidneys play a major role in the human body.
Kidneys play a major role in the human body. | Source

Kidney Disease in Human.

I loved my brother. He was the firstborn and I was the second in our family. Kidney failure took him away from us and the sudden demise broke my heart terribly. Although I did not know about kidney disease at that time, I still feel guilty because there were times he manifested some of the symptoms of kidney failure but we took no action.

There was a time he had a swollen ankle but made fun out of it that he had been stung by a scorpion. Being an alcoholic, he refused to see a doctor and we took it lightly since the swelling subsided after a few days. There were times he woke up confused late at night. This occurred frequently and we thought he was using hard drugs!

After his demise, I did a research to find out more about kidney failure and the early symptoms of kidney disease. I have shared them in this article and I hope you read to the end for you and your loved one’s sake.

What causes Kidney disease?

Like any other disease, kidney disease does not occur without a trigger. Various health conditions are responsible for gradually damaging your kidneys leading to kidney disease. When permanently damaged, your kidneys may not function as required and when the damage gets worse, chronic kidney disease occurs (gradual loss of kidney function that is not reversible).

At this stage, your kidneys are not able to filter extra water and wastes out of your blood the way they should. The chronic kidney disease (whose progression can be slowed) can progress to a fatal end-stage kidney failure whereby your body becomes loaded with toxins. The treatment when you experience end-stage kidney failure includes kidney transplant or dialysis.

The health conditions that may damage your kidneys are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus and IgA nephropathy
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units)
  • Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract that may be caused by an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and some cancers.
  • Recurrent kidney infection
  • Vesicoureteral reflux which is a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
  • Genetic diseases like polycystic kidney disease
  • Nephrotic syndrome

Other factors that may increase your risk of chronic kidney disease include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Severe dehydration
  • Kidney trauma
  • Toxic exposure to environmental pollutants or certain medications
  • Abnormal kidney structure
  • Being African-American, Native-American or Asian-American
  • Family history of kidney disease

Acute kidney injury occurs when your kidneys stop working very suddenly within two days. However, if you seek immediate treatment your kidneys may recover. Good health is a plus for recovering in acute kidney injury. The following conditions may cause acute renal failure:

  • Urinary tract problems
  • Lack of enough blood flowing to the kidneys
  • Illegal drug use and abuse
  • Heart attack

Stages of Renal Failure

Steps. | Source

What are the stages of Kidney disease?

Stage 1

Although the damage is present in this first stage of kidney failure, you may experience no symptoms or have no visible complications. Practicing a healthy lifestyle and taking a balanced diet may manage the disease. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and maintain a healthy weight.

Stage 2

This is a mild stage and you may detect protein in the urine or more obvious physical damage to the kidneys. A healthy lifestyle may still manage the disease at this stage.

Stage 3

This is a moderate stage and your kidneys aren’t filtering the excess fluid and wastes in your blood as they should. In this stage, there is Stage 3A and Stage 3B, which are differentiated by a blood test that measures the number of waste products in your body. Visible symptoms like swelling in feet or hands may become more apparent. It is important to follow your doctor’s directions about lifestyle approaches that could help.

Stage 4

This is a moderate to a severe stage where the kidneys aren’t working as they should but complete kidney failure has not occurred yet. More symptoms are evident and a healthy lifestyle is vital for survival.

Stage 5

At this stage, your kidney is almost failing or is already in complete failure. The symptoms of the last stage include nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, etc. The treatment at this stage is a kidney transplant or dialysis.

The symptoms of kidney failure

Fluid retention in the body may cause swelling in the feet or hands.
Fluid retention in the body may cause swelling in the feet or hands. | Source

What are the early signs of Kidney disease?

There are many physical signs of kidney disease but if you are not keen enough, you may attribute them to something else. In most circumstances, patients with kidney disease tend not to experience the symptoms of kidney disease until the very late stages. This is when the kidneys are failing or when they notice large amounts of proteins in their urine.

Although the sure way to know if you have kidney disease is by being tested, the following symptoms may indicate the early stages of kidney disease:

  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Persistent itching
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Confusion
  • seizures
  • Decreased mental alertness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Too much rune or not enough urine during pee
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble breathing (may cause confusion in sleep)

The signs of acute kidney failure are:

  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
  • Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs (may cause insomnia or confusion in sleep)
  • Coma
  • Reduced amount of urine
  • High blood pressure that’s difficult to control

The above signs and symptoms of kidney disease may be most common in other disease and there’s no need for alarm when you notice any of the symptoms. However, it is highly advisable to make an appointment with your doctor for further diagnosis.

Smoking increases the risks of Kidney failure!

Woman smoking.
Woman smoking. | Source

How to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease

The following are the steps you can take to reduce the risks of developing kidney failure:

  • Avoid taking too many over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. To be on the safe side when taking these medications, always follow the recommended dosage on the package. Too many pain relievers could damage your kidneys.
  • It is important to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a factor that may increase the risks of kidney disease.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking as it can damage our kidneys or worsen an already diagnosed kidney disease.
  • Avoid alcohol as it increases your blood pressure.
  • Manage your blood sugar since diabetes increases the risks.
  • Manage your blood pressure as it also increases your risk for kidney diseases.
  • Avoid taking too much salt in your meals.
  • Drink enough water to reduce dehydration.
  • Ensure you take a healthy balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid stress and anxiety

Finally, always consult your doctor when you notice any of the outlined symptoms above for an early diagnosis and treatment. Living a healthy lifestyle is one sure way of reducing the risks of developing a kidney disease, which may progress to kidney failure if not taken care of.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Philip Agutu


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