10 Symptoms of Kidney Failure

10 Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Last update: 08 May, 2015

Kidney problems are becoming more common throughout the world due to a number of factors, including lifestyle and diet. Kidney failure is a debilitating condition, so it is crucially important to look out for symptoms of kidney problems so that you can seek treatment as soon as symptoms appear. This article will examine ten common symptoms of kidney failure and discuss a number of lifestyle changes you can implement to reduce your risk of developing problems with the kidneys and protect your health.

1. Changes in urination

Urine is a good indicator of kidney health. Changes to urine can mean the kidneys are experiencing some trauma, however, urine can also change due to other issues so it is important to speak to a doctor if you experience some of these symptoms: more frequent urination and increased toilet trips to relieve yourself during the night, quantity or colour changes and any blood in the urine or sensations of pressure during urination.

2. Swelling


Kidney failure means that the body cannot remove excess fluid because they cannot filter it normally. This causes a buildup of fluid in the body and thus swelling in the limbs, including the legs, feet, ankles and even sometimes a swollen face and neck. Look out for problems with wearing your usual shoes, which could show a swelling of the feet.

3. Fatigue

An increase in feelings of fatigue and general tiredness is another symptom of kidney failure. Healthy livers produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which helps the body produce red blood cells. These cells help oxygen move around the body and feed the muscles and organs. Less of this hormone is produced if you suffer from kidney problems, which means you will feel much more tired and feel an urge to sleep a lot of the time.

4. Skin issues

As the failing kidneys cannot filter the blood properly, there is a buildup of toxins in the body which show themselves in your skin in the form of outbreaks, itching and aches. People with kidney issues often find themselves scratching their skin due to the discomfort.

5. Metallic taste


The accumulation of toxins and other waste, which is normally filtered from the blood, causes the taste of food to change. If your kidneys are failing, you may find you no longer like the taste of your favourite foods, while some people also find they get a metallic taste in their mouth.

6. Nausea

The build-up of waste products in the blood causes patients to feel sick and nauseated, leading them to lose weight. The stomach can also feel full when it is not, leading sufferers to feel lethargic and heavy.

7. Breathlessness

Increased tiredness also creates a shortness of breath with sufferers feeling breathless from simple activities such as climbing stairs. This is also due to excess fluid building up in the lungs which stops sufferers being able to breathe. Anaemia also causes breathlessness, another symptom of kidney failure.

8. Feeling cold


Patients with kidney issues often feel cold all the time. This is due to a general lack of body function and anaemia slowing the circulation.

9. Confusion and lack of concentration

People with kidney problems suffer from poor concentration due to the blood not being moved around the body effectively to the brain, starving it of oxygen. The brain does not get enough energy to work well, causing a mental slowness, feelings of tiredness, dizziness and memory loss.

10. Back and leg pain

There is a characteristic pain associated with kidney failure. This pain is often at the side of the back, where the kidney lies inside the body, while a pain also often extends from the side of the leg. This could signal polycystic kidney disease, which creates cysts that are filled with fluid resting in the kidneys and liver.

Kidney failure prevention

Although some kidney issues are about genetics, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing kidney problems by up to 60%. It is important to keep a healthy weight, keep blood pressure and cholesterol at normal levels, take exercise and eat a healthy diet.

To prevent kidney failure, try to avoid red meat and dairy, cut back on carbonated and sweetened beverages, which are hard for the kidneys to process, stop smoking and avoid drinking alcohol and coffee. Other steps to improve the health of your kidneys include drinking 2 litres of water a day and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, both cooked and raw.