10 Signs Of Kidney Disease You Need To Know

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition known by a gradual loss of kidney function over time.  In the United States, the incidence of chronic kidney disease is increasing more rapidly in people aged 65 or older, and in the last 15 years it has doubled. As it is the case with many diseases, early prevention and treatment are key to battling them. Checking your blood sugar level along with your doctor, maintaining good eating habits and a healthy body weight can go a long way in helping you prevent this and many other conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Here at Joe Cosgrove blog, we always bring you the best advice when it comes to everything having to do with your kidneys and the preventive health that comes along with these conditions. In today’s article, we want to talk about some of the most common symptoms and sign that while may seem unrelated to kidney health, they are very accurate indicators when present together, that something may be wrong and you should look into it.   

Doctor greating patient

Image courtesy of Vic at Flickr.com

Side Or Leg Pain

Pain is not usually a common symptom of chronic kidney disease and even pain that is felt in the area near the kidneys is usually not related to any renal condition. However, in some cases, those suffering from kidney problems may have pain located in the upper back area where the kidneys are or in the side of their torso. Sometimes these pains are related to other symptoms like bladder infections or cysts.

Changes In Urination

Changes in frequency or urges to urinate are only some of the most common symptoms related to kidney conditions. As the kidneys produce urine, it is common to also see urine that is particularly foamy, very pale or extremely dark in color or in some cases even containing blood. Difficulty urinating or feeling urges but being unable to discharge are also some commonly reported signs.

Itchy Skin

Since your kidneys work as a filter for toxins and remove waste from your bloodstream, their malfunctioning allows a build-up of that waste material in your blood, something that can cause severe itching all over your body and in some cases, visible rashes. It is not uncommon that patients scratch so much they break the skin.

Feeling Tired

Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin or EPO. The purpose of this hormone is to promote the creation of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less EPO, something that makes your muscles and brain tire very quickly. This is a common symptom of anemia. This feeling of being tired can be a symptom of many different things, but it is commonly present in kidney diseases.

Having Trouble Sleeping

When the kidneys aren’t working properly, waste stays in the blood rather than leaving the body through the urine. This can cause significant discomfort and inability to sleep. There is also a connection between obesity and chronic kidney disease, and sleep apnea is more common in those with chronic kidney disease, compared with the general population.

Doctors Patient and Xray_dialysis_joe cosgrove_kidney disease, kidney failure

Image courtesy of andyde at Flickr.com

Swelling

When the kidneys aren’t working properly, it is common for the body to retain excess fluids that cannot be eliminated normally through the urine. This condition of retaining fluids can cause swelling in the legs, feet, ankles, hands and in the face especially around the eyes. This puffiness around the eyes has to do with retaining more protein than normal inside the body.

Nausea And Vomiting

Uremia is a condition in which the body is over-saturated with waste and toxin build-up. When this happens, it is common for people to experience a lot of nausea and vomiting. Having a metallic taste on their mouth is also common and it makes the condition the more unbearable.

Shortness Of Breath

Extra fluid can build up in the lungs and the shortage of red blood cells in the blood can lead to the feeling of being short of air. Trouble catching your breath is a very common condition related to most kidney diseases. Feeling like you can’t breathe is a terrible feeling and it should not be ignored if it happens, so if this is present, you need to see your doctor immediately.

Dizziness And Trouble Concentrating

Anemia can affect the brain by not delivering enough oxygen through the blood. This condition can cause dizziness, memory loss, and real difficulty when concentrating. Even some of the simplest tasks can be taxing on a person suffering from chronic kidney disease. This leads to mental exhaustion and irritability as well.

Poor Appetite

On top of being a symptom of its own, the loss of appetite is very common in patients with kidney disease or renal related issues, and it can be severely made worse by other symptoms like nausea and dizziness that can cause you to stop eating on their own. The buildup of toxins saturates the body and shut down hunger and the need for food and fluid intake.

Some kidney facts you need to know

In previous articles, we have talked about a lot of topics related to kidney and its functioning, but there are a lot of information around this you need to know and understand for this vital organ.

In this article, we will see significant facts and statistics about the renal system and other concerning information of kidney and its diseases. These stats are very important because it lets us to comprehend in a better way how this vital organ is in the United States, giving us important insights about it.

Before talking about renal statistics and other facts, it is important to describe barely some kidney functioning information and its illnesses for a better insights appreciation.

Kidney and its disease

As we have said in other articles, the kidney is the organ what regulates the body’s fluid levels, cleaning it from multiple toxins and wastes. In other words, the kidney is in charge of filtering and cleaning the blood from multiple impurities. Besides its main function, the renal system releases a vital hormone to regulate blood pressure and produce red blood cells, keeping it in the perfect balance and with the needed minerals, like sodium, phosphorus, and potassium

The kidney is the principal figure for the renal system, being who regulates and controls everything in it. It is in charge for filter impurities in every piece of blood presented in the body. In resume, it is the organ who take all the blood from the body and cleans it to keep it with the correct fluid levels.

Currently, in the United States, there is one in three Americans with risk for suffering some kidney disease, due to their food habits or other conditions, like diabetes, hereditary illnesses, elevated blood pressure, smoking, obesity and alcohol drinking. Presently, in the United States, there are more than 26 million people with some renal failure, where more than the 60% of these affectations is caused by diabetes or elevated blood pressure. These failures are considered one of the deadliest causes in this country, killing approximately 55.000 persons per year, most of them men.

How to detect kidney failure?

Those persons who are at risk for suffering some kidney disease must take periodically blood and urine tests to check if they have renal problems. In addition, those people who have painful urination, dark urine, swollen hands, and feet or elevated thirst, could be at risk for suffering some renal sickness and should take some of the mentioned exams to verify if they have problems or not.

Principal kidney diseases facts

Kidney stones

As we have mentioned in other posts, kidney stones are produced for the accumulation of different minerals in the renal system, producing intense pain for the person who are suffering this illness. Renal stones are formed most of the times for bad food habits or kidney failures.

In the United States, more than 500.000 persons per year are treated in hospitals due to this affectation and more than 60% of them are men. According to some medical studies, one in ten Americans will suffer from kidney stones during their lives.

my-kidney-stone_renal-calculus

Image courtesy of dfaulder at Flickr.com

Nephropathy

This is one of the most serious kidney diseases because it makes that the person who suffers it, requires dialysis processes for the rest of its life. Currently, from the more than 600.000 persons with some renal failure, the 65% of them must live with dialysis. Moreover, the 35% of them have a kidney transplant.

In the United States, there are more than 100.000 individuals waiting for a kidney transplant and just the 20% of these people receive a newly transplanted kidney per year. Every day, more than 10 persons die due to Nephropathy and waiting for a kidney replacement.

dialysis

Image courtesy of Frank DiBona at Flickr.com

Related: Dialysis: When and what it is by Joe Cosgrove

Principal kidney disease causes

As we mentioned before, elevated blood pressure and diabetes are the two principal reasons for kidney failures, being this last one the main cause among the two of them.

The diabetes is responsible for more than 50.000 kidney failures per year in the United States and there are more than 250.000 persons living with these failures due to diabetes. Presently, more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, which means a high risk for suffering a kidney disease.

The another principal reason for kidney diseases is the elevated blood pressure, which is been responsible for more than 30.000 kidney failures per year in the United States. Today, there are more than 170.000 persons with some renal illness produced for high blood pressure.

In the United States, there are more than 70 million people with elevated blood pressure, where approximately the 20% do not know it has it.

The facts mentioned in this post are just a little sample of what kidney diseases mean for Americans and what we must expect for these illnesses in the future. These affectations are increasing more and more and we must know and understand them to deal with them in the right way.

Understanding Acid-Base Disorders: Metabolic Acidosis

Pentec Health CEO Joe Cosgrove has addressed before the topic of dialysis in several occasions; however, and given the variety of health issues related to renal failure, it is also important to discuss and clarify the doubts people may have about other renal pathologies such as acid-base disorders.

kidney-failure_metabolic-acidosis

Image courtesy of Steve Davis at Flickr.com

Since acid-base disorders entails the deep study of kidneys, and every case depends on the patient, if one were to fully understand this topic, one would need to go through all the formulas in order to completely get the full picture of a given case, nevertheless, there is a way for readers to understand what is this thing commonly referred to as “compensation”—or renal compensation in an acid-base disorder, for this matter—, and furthermore understand what is going on under these circumstances. To understand compensation, it is advisable to take a few steps back in order to see a depiction of what is happening in the blood when it has a lot of acid as in metabolic acidosis, for instance.

Actually, acid-base disorders comprise four scenarios: metabolic acidosis, metabolic alkalosis, respiratory acidosis and respiratory alkalosis, however, and since each scenario demands a succinct study, this article focuses on metabolic acidosis. In a metabolic acidosis, what normally happens is that patients experience a drop in their serum bicarbonate, and what physicians strive to assess is how far the patients’ CO2 will fall, since it is expected to drop. This might sound very technical, so for people to understand this much easier, simply put, metabolic acidosis refers the condition where there is too much acid in the body fluids—which causes the bicarbonate drop mentioned before—; and, as in every pathology, there are some possible causes that can ultimately result in metabolic acidosis, specially three main categories: either patients have a lot of acid being produced in the body: patients suffering from DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) are more likely to suffer from metabolic acidosis given their increased and extremely high blood sugar levels and ketones production which causes bicarbonate to go down; or patients experience a decreased acid excretion: patients who suffer from kidney failure cannot filter all the waste products and byproducts causing the acid to stay in the body and consequently rise its levels; and the another cause is the loss of bicarbonate: people can lose bicarbonate from diarrhea, for instance, and as consequence the acid stays in the body. In general, metabolic acidosis causes the arterial blood gases values to exceed their normal levels while the body struggles to compensate: the respiratory system sees that there is too much acid in the body and starts to breathe more rapidly so that the CO2 can be expelled out of the body in hopes of raising the blood pH back to normal, and consequently increase the bicarbonate level.

ph-testing_acid-base-disorders_metabolic-acidosis_renal-compensation

Image courtesy of Laura Whitehead at Flickr.com

Patients suffering from severe metabolic acidosis are commonly seen doing deep rapid breaths in order to expel all the CO2 (which is an acid) so that the blood pH can get to its normal values. Other causes that can result in metabolic acidosis can be found aside the three mentioned before. For example, aspirin toxicity has been correlated with metabolic acidosis: patients who have taken a lot of aspirin accidentally will experience a dramatic rise in their acid levels once the body has absorbed it. This will likely cause them to hyperventilate since, as explained before, the respiratory system will try to get rid of the excess of acid by expelling CO2 (causing, furthermore, respiratory alkalosis). Another cause has been linked to carbohydrates not being properly metabolized: there are plenty of metabolic issues and it is often seen the case where patients struggle to metabolize carbohydrates which in turn prevents the body to break down pyruvic acids due to the lack of oxygen. Not being able to break down the pyruvic acid, the body turns it into lactic acid, which almost shuts down the body and causes the bicarbonate levels to drop.

A third cause is inherently related to kidney failure: the kidneys, which are responsible for filtering the waste out of the body, fail to do so causing the body to store waste and acids in the blood. As readers might have already imagined, having increased acid levels causes the bicarbonate levels to fall. Actually, every single thing that causes either a loss of bicarbonate or alkaline fluids, or retention of acids, might result in metabolic acidosis, moreover, even a wrong diet can be directly linked with this pathology: an intake of high-fat diet increases the likelihood of increasing the waste, acids, and ketones in the body. Since the body is not a perfect machine and sometimes fail, one can certainly assert that an excess of fat, or any excess, results in something bad for the body: having a good and healthy lifestyle will surely help patients to keep their kidneys functioning for much longer.