We don't think about our kidneys very much, even when they stop working effectively. Recent figures show that about eight percent of Americans are in some stage of kidney failure but do not realize it. To spot this illness at an early stage is the most significant challenge in battling kidney disease. The primary factor that makes early identification difficult is that many of the signs only appear at a later stage in the illness, and they can easily be mistaken for symptoms of another disease.
A possible link between kidney failure and difficulty settling down to sleep is a prime example of the complications of early identification. Many factors can cause insomnia, and kidney disease does not top the list. This symptom is also not one for which people tend to quickly seek out medical attention. However, people with kidney failure, particularly those in the late stages of the condition, can have problems sleeping.
It's not uncommon for people with kidney failure to feel fatigued and lack the energy to do things they enjoy. This can occur even after a good night's sleep. Some people with failing kidneys develop anemia, a decrease in healthy red blood cells. Since red blood cells carry oxygen, this deficiency can cause tiredness and low energy. In some cases, treating anemia will help the fatigue, though lack of sleep is another potential factor. Anyone who feels excessively tired for an extended period with no clear reason should speak to a doctor.
Urinating blood may be one of the most disturbing signs of kidney failure, and rightfully prompts most people to seek medical assistance. However, this sign is again not one exclusive to kidney disease. Kidney stones can also cause blood in the urine, though the blood isn't always visible and can only be seen with a microscope. Kidney failure can also cause other changes in urine color. In all events, nobody should attempt self-diagnosis — a physician can confirm the cause, or put a worried patient's fears to rest.
The link between kidney failure and dry and itchy skin is unexpected. When the kidneys work correctly, they filter out toxins. When kidneys fail, toxins can build in up in the bloodstream and cause itching. Certain prescription medications may help relieve the itching. This typically occurs in the later stages of kidney failure.
One job of the kidneys is to prevent sodium accumulation in the body. If the organs cannot carry out this task, the sodium builds up and results in fluid retention, which gravity pulls downward, resulting in swelling around the ankles. Swollen ankles might indicate the renal system isn't filtering sodium or waste products from the body. Other illnesses can also make the ankles swell.
A wide range of health issues can cause a loss of appetite. The symptom may indicate a physical health problem, emotional issues, or high stress. Lack of hunger can also be a sign of kidney failure. When the kidneys stop working, toxins begin to accumulate in the body, which can reduce appetite. Consistent or recurring lack of appetite calls for medical diagnosis.
The body has a sophisticated mechanism to reject foods we're unable to digest, or those it feels may be harmful. Typically, if someone consumes a product unfit to eat, the body forces it back up and out. This mechanism comes into play when the kidneys fail to filter toxins, or this filtering is slowed. This often results in persistent nausea.
People with kidney failure are more likely to develop anemia, which can lead to difficulty breathing because a depletion in red blood cells means less oxygen is being distributed throughout the body. People with anemia often feel tired and quickly out of breath. A doctor can run a blood test to identify anemia, and from there determine whether kidney failure is the ultimate cause.
Forgetfulness is common, especially as people age. This fact means memory loss is yet another easily overlooked or mistaken symptom of kidney failure. Failing kidneys may not pump blood to the brain as well as healthy ones and, if the kidneys fail, blood and oxygen delivery to the brain may decrease. This can, in turn, affect memory.
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