What Are Renal Failure Signs and Symptoms?

February 20, 2018

What Are Renal Failure Signs and Symptoms?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), a precursor to renal failure, also known as kidney failure, affects up to 14 percent of the general population, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). More than have of those with the disease have diabetes or another chronic health condition, and approximately 661,000 suffer from end-stage kidney failure. Understanding the signs and symptoms of the disease, including the failure of the kidneys, may help reduce mortality and increase overall health.

Symptoms of End-Stage Renal Failure.

The symptoms of the end-stage failure of the kidneys may vary, depending on the presence of co-occurring chronic health conditions, including chronic use of medications, injury to the kidneys, hypertension (high blood pressure), thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes. Aside from the symptoms exhibited for each independent, co-occurring condition, as explained by the Mayo Clinic, additional symptoms of failure of the kidneys may include:

  • Decreased urination, but some may experience urinating at a typical rate.
  • Retention of fluid, most often noticed around the lower extremities.
  • Unexplained drowsiness or fatigue.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Confusion and trouble with memory.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Seizures or coma when left untreated.
  • Chest pain or pressure.

Those living with chronic health conditions may experience these symptoms with increasing severity. Moreover, end-stage failure of the kidneys may result in the worsening of chronic conditions. This exemplifies why early detection of signs and symptoms of CKD before it progresses to renal failure is critical to survival.

Other Symptoms and Signs of CKD.

While the failure of the kidneys is the end-stage form of CKD, identifying the disease before the kidney begins to fail is essential to maintaining a quality of life and preventing worsening of symptoms. Signs of CKD may include:

  • Changes in appetite, including increased or decreased thirst.
  • Problems falling and staying asleep.
  • Muscle aches, spasms or cramps.
  • Continuous itching that does not subside.
  • Hypertension that is unaffected by medications.

Depending on each person’s medical history, a physician may perform a series of laboratory tests to diagnose CKD. According to the National Kidney Foundation, an albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) of the urine can help determine if your kidneys may be passing necessary proteins through the urine. When this occurs, it may be an early warning sign of CKD. Testing for the presence of higher-than-typical creatinine levels in the blood may also be a warning sign. Healthcare professionals can use the creatinine level to determine the glomerular filtration rate, which details how well the kidneys are functioning.

Have Your Symptoms Checked by a Qualified Nephrologist to Help Prevent Kidney Failure Now.
The signs and symptoms of kidney disease or failure are not absolute. Some people may experience minor symptoms in the beginning stages of the disease, exhibiting the classic signs once the kidneys begin to fail. If you have previously exhibited any of these symptoms, it may be worthwhile to see a nephrologist, who is a doctor that specializes in the kidneys, to ensure proper function of the organs. By taking action now, you may be able to reduce your risk of failure of the kidneys. Contact Associates in Nephrology online, and a representative will be able to help you set up a consultation.

What are the Different Stages of Kidney Disease

February 10, 2018

What are the Different Stages of Kidney Disease

People who are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, or CKD as it is sometimes called, do not exhibit all symptoms at once. Instead, the disease progresses in stages. Each stage has different symptoms and therefore has different treatment options. Learning more about the five stages of this disease can help you better understand your illness and what treatment may be available.

Stage One of CKD

The first stage of CKD has practically no symptoms associated with it. In fact, people often are diagnosed with it when test results for another condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, come back.

Most treatment for stage one CKD is preventative in nature. The treatment options are focused on preventing the progression of the disease. Some suggestions for treatment include improving your diet, losing weight, and keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level.

Stage Two of CKD

The second stage of CKD is very similar to the first stage. There are no symptoms associated with this stage and people are often only diagnosed when blood or urine tests are being run for other conditions. The only difference between stage one and stage two is stage two has a more mild decrease of glomerular filtration rate.

Due to the similar nature to the first stage of CKD, the treatment options are the same. Unlike stage one, people in stage two will often have to undergo regular blood or urine testing to monitor glomerular filtration rate levels.

Stage 3A and 3B of CKD

Stage three of chronic kidney disease is broken up into two groups A and B. The symptoms of the disease are the same, but they have different glomerular filtration rates.

Symptoms of stage three of CKD include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in urination
  • Pain in the lower back near the kidneys
  • Fluid retention
  • Restless legs or muscle cramps

Treatment for stage three of CKD focuses on stopping the progression of the disease. The way to stop the progression is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. It is also important to make sure other diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, are being properly treated with medications.

Stage Four of CKD

Fourth stage of CKD is when the kidneys start becoming severely damaged. They become so damaged that they are unable to properly function.

Some of the symptoms associated with stage four of CKD include:

  • Slight fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Changes in taste
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nerve problems
  • Retaining fluids
  • Noticeable changes in urination – such as changes in color
  • Pain in the lower back area
  • Problems sleeping

Treatment options for the fourth stage of CKD are similar to the third stage. People will need to make lifestyle changes, eat a healthy diet, and treat other health problems – such as diabetes – with medications. However, in the fourth stage of CKD some doctors may recommend dialysis. In severe cases, a transplant may be needed.

Stage Five of CKD

This is the most severe stage of kidney disease. It is when the kidneys have become so damaged they no longer work on their own.

Symptoms of this stage of disease include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme nausea with vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Swelling and muscle cramps in the legs
  • Changes to the color of the skin
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Inability to urinate

Typically, people in stage five of CKD will need to undergo regular dialysis to live. They will also need a kidney transplant.

If you believe you may be exhibiting symptoms associated with kidney disease, talk to your doctor.

What Are Renal Failure Signs and Symptoms?

January 24, 2018

What Are Renal Failure Signs and Symptoms?

Your kidneys work hard to filter waste and excess fluids from your body. Together, your two kidneys filter 120 to 150 quarts of blood every day to produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unfortunately, kidney disease can cause your kidneys to stop working as well as they should. Kidney disease can cause the kidneys to fail, a condition known as renal failure or acute kidney failure. Renal failure causes a number of signs and symptoms.

Also known as an end-stage renal disease (ESRD), kidney failure is the last phase of kidney disease. It means your kidneys have stopped functioning well enough for you to survive without undergoing dialysis to filter your blood or a kidney transplant.

Certain conditions increase the risk of kidney disease and renal failure. Acute kidney failure usually develops in connection with another medical condition or event. It can develop when you have a condition that slows the flow of blood to your kidneys, for example. High blood pressure, blood or fluid loss, heart attack, heart disease, infections, liver failure, and the use of some medications can increase the risk of renal failure. Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD, according to the American Kidney Fund. Patients hospitalized in intensive care for serious illnesses are at greater risk for kidney damage and renal failure.

Kidneys filter toxins and fluids from the body. The kidneys also play a role in regulating blood pressure, the balance of sodium and other electrolytes, and the production of red blood cells. The signs and symptoms of renal failure are the results of the buildup of waste and fluids in the body.

Signs and Symptoms of Renal Failure

In its earliest stages, renal failure may cause no symptoms until damage to the kidneys is quite advanced. In these cases, doctors can still detect kidney failure through lab tests done for another reason. Sometimes patients may experience itching, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, too much urine, trouble sleeping and trouble catching their breath.

In other cases, especially as kidney disease advances to later stages, renal failure causes certain signs and symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of renal failure include:

  • Less urine output (peeing a lot), although the amount of urine you produce may remain normal in some cases
  • Fluid retention that causes swelling in your legs, ankles or feet
  • Drowsiness, fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain or chest pressure
  • Confusion

In severe cases, seizures and coma may occur.

If you have kidney disease, or you worry that you may have the signs and symptoms of renal failure, make an appointment to see a healthcare professional or kidney specialist, known as a nephrologist. These healthcare professionals can perform blood work and evaluations that determine whether your signs and symptoms are the result of renal failure.

The Different Stages of Kidney Disease

January 10, 2018

The Different Stages of Kidney Disease


Medical professionals describe kidney disease in stages, with very mild kidney disease occurring in the first stages and advanced disease occurring in the last stages.

There are five stages of kidney disease, which is a condition that affects the two blood-filtering organs in the human body.

Kidney disease is often chronic, which means it can last for many years. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) may lead to end-stage kidney disease, often known as an end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The two main causes of CKD are high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and diabetes.

About Kidney Function

The kidneys are bean-shaped, and each organ is about the size of a fist. They are located just below the ribcage, one kidney on each side of the spine. Their job is to filter waste and extra fluid out of the bloodstream and to keep protein and other nutrients in the blood. Together, the two kidneys filter 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine.

Doctors use the term “glomerular filtration rate” to describe how well the kidneys are working. Each kidney has about a million nephrons that act as the filtering system in the kidneys. At the end of each nephron is a cluster of capillaries, known as glomeruli, which do the work of straining toxins out of the blood.

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measurement of how well these glomeruli filter the blood. Medical professionals calculate GFR from the results of a blood creatinine test that measures the number of waste products in a patient’s blood and the patient’s age, gender, and body size.

A high GFR of 90 or more means the kidneys are working well; a lower GFR means the kidneys are doing a poor job of filtering blood. A GFR of 15 or less means the kidneys are in failure, and that they have stopped filtering toxins from the blood. Patients who are in kidney failure must rely on dialysis, a procedure that filters toxins from the blood, or a kidney transplant to survive.

Doctors may also perform a proteinuria test to determine if the kidneys have allowed the protein to pass into the urine. Patients with CKD often have protein in the urine, a condition known as proteinuria, for at least three months or longer.

Stages of Kidney Disease

Doctors use GFR to determine which stage of kidney disease a patient may have.

Stage 1: The kidneys are damaged but still functioning (GFR is over 90)

Stage 2: Kidney damage with mild loss of function (GFR 60 to 89)

Stage 3: Mild loss to severe loss of renal function (GFR 30 to 59)

Stage 4: Severe loss of renal function (GFR 15 – 29)

Stage 5: Failure that requires the patient undergo dialysis or kidney transplant (GFR less than 15)

For more information on kidney function and kidney failure, talk with your doctor. Treatment for your kidney disease can help control signs and symptoms, reduce complications, and slow the progression of the disease from one stage to the next.

Why Does Kidney Disease Cause Weight Gain?

December 13, 2017

Why Does Kidney Disease Cause Weight Gain?

Kidney disease doesn’t just affect the kidneys, it affects the whole body. In the early stages, it can cause weight loss, while in the later stages it can cause weight gain. These variations are the result of different aspects of the disease. Here’s some information to help you understand the issue of kidney disease and weight gain, courtesy of Dr. Allen Lauer, of Associates in Nephrology.

Kidney Function and Kidney Disease

The primary task of the kidneys is to maintain the fluid balance in the body. They accomplish this task through increasing or decreasing the amount of fluid excreted in the urine. Electrolytes (minerals with an electrical charge) like sodium and potassium are an important component of fluid management. When you eat or drink liquids, the fluid eventually makes its way to the kidneys. A complex mechanism of fluid and electrolyte transfers, mediated by hormones and other chemicals, results in the movement of fluid into the kidneys and bladder, from which the urine is excreted. Kidney disease damages these mechanisms.

Early Kidney Disease

In the early to middle stages of kidney disease, people often lose body weight. This occurs because the disease causes loss of appetite. Appetite regulation is very complex, but your appetite is affected by chemical compounds in the blood that affect the brain. People with kidney disease begin to build up compounds that suppress the appetite. These changes can also alter your sense of taste. Many people begin to avoid protein foods like meat, which can result in muscle wasting. All of these changes can result in weight loss (both fat and muscle).

Late Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure

Untreated kidney disease will usually progress to complete kidney failure. The kidneys simply stop functioning or function so poorly that they cannot keep with the work of fluid management. Fluid builds up in the tissues, causing swelling and weight gain. It’s important to recognize that this is water weight, not fat or muscle. In fact, many people with severe kidney disease or kidney failure are actually undernourished. The excess swelling can make it difficult to breathe and increase your blood pressure.

Dialysis and Weight

Dialysis is a medical treatment that takes over the function of the kidneys. One of its primary objectives is to remove excess fluid. You may hear your doctor talk about “dry weight” and “fluid weight.” The first is what your weight is when your blood pressure is under control and there is no excess fluid in your body. Fluid weight is the weight you gain from fluid and foods in the intervals between dialysis treatment. To help manage fluid weight, you must follow a strict diet with limited sodium and usually need to restrict your fluid intake as well. After a successful dialysis treatment, your weight will decrease. This is why you are always weighed before and after a dialysis treatment.

Weight is an important component of dialysis and kidney disease management. If you have kidney failure or are on dialysis, don’t hesitate to contact us for an appointment or answers to your questions.

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