About 15 percent of US adults have kidney disease, and most don’t know it. In fact, studies show that 9 out of 10 adults with kidney disease don’t know they have it. This is a scary statistic.
As with any disease, it is very important to diagnose and treat it as early as possible. We aim to provide insight into kidney disease and its subtle symptoms that may go unnoticed.
Read on to learn more about the disease, its risk factors, and early signs of kidney disease.
Overview of kidney disease
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located under your rib cage on either side of your back. They are responsible for filtering excess waste, fluid, and other impurities from your blood into urine.
Healthy kidneys filter about half a cup of blood every minute, but if you have kidney disease, you lose the ability to do so. As a result, dangerous amounts of waste and fluid accumulate in your body.
Your kidneys perform various functions in addition to excreting toxins. They maintain the balance of water and minerals in your blood, create chemicals that help produce red blood cells, and create a form of vitamin D needed for bone health. All these activities have a negative effect on kidney disease, which we will discuss later.
Risk factors for kidney disease
There are several conditions and lifestyle factors that increase the risk of developing kidney disease. It includes:
High blood pressure
Family history of kidney disease
If you have any of these conditions, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your risk factors and get tested for kidney disease.
Warning signs of kidney disease
In the early stages of kidney disease, there may be no symptoms. As kidney damage progresses, symptoms may worsen over time. Pay attention to these symptoms of kidney disease so that you can treat it as soon as possible so that it does not go unnoticed.
- Changes in urine
Urine production is one of the primary functions of your kidneys, so it’s no surprise that you should pay attention to your urine to detect early signs of kidney disease. If your kidneys are not working properly, you may develop various urinary problems. Some of the symptoms to look out for are blood in the urine, an increased need to urinate, and cloudy or foamy urine.
Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), which signals your body to make red blood cells. When your kidneys begin to fail, less EPO is produced and your body makes fewer red blood cells. Not having enough red blood cells can cause anemia, which occurs when your brain is deprived of oxygen. When this happens, you may feel tired, dizzy, or weak. You may notice that you are more mentally fatigued than usual or that you have problems with your memory or concentration.
- Swollen face or legs
You may be familiar with the old advice of drinking a glass of water in the morning to reduce facial swelling. If you have kidney disease, no matter how much water you drink, you can’t avoid facial swelling. When your kidneys are unable to flush out excess toxins, swelling and puffiness can build up on your face. Excess sodium is another side effect of kidney disease and can cause swelling in your ankles and feet.
- Local pain
Your kidneys are located in the back of your abdomen on either side of your spine. If you have pain in the side or middle of your back, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your kidneys. Besides back or side pain, another subtle symptom to watch out for is muscle stiffness. Kidney disease can cause various electrolyte imbalances, such as low calcium or high phosphorus levels. As a result, you may experience muscle pain or a tingling sensation in your arms and legs.
- Metallic taste in food
If you have kidney disease, it is very common for your taste buds to change. Wastes in the blood make food taste metallic and leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to eat your favorite foods. In addition to changing the taste of food, the accumulation of debris can also cause bad breath.