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5 Signs Your Kidneys May be in Danger

The following blog post was written by our guest editor, Jenny Hart, who is a Health and Wellness Writer with a focus on ageing and travel. She has also obtained a Bachelor’s Degree  in Health Administration from Monroe College-New Rochelle.

The kidneys act as the body’s primary filtration system. Blood flows into the kidneys, where it is filtered and cleansed of excess fluids and waste products. After the blood is filtered, it returns to the bloodstream, while the toxins are passed out of the body through urine.

If there is too much waste in the blood from poor diet, pre-existing kidney damage, diabetes or for any other reason, the kidneys likely can’t filter it out efficiently, which can cause even more damage. Eventually, untreated kidney damage can develop into more serious conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD). If your physical health begins to impact your daily life, it may be time to talk to your doctor about how to prevent or treat health concerns, such as kidney failure.

These 5 symptoms may be a sign that your kidneys are in danger:

1.You’re overly stressed

Stress can cause a variety of health concerns, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and while this doesn’t mean you undoubtedly have kidney damage, it can increase your chances.

If you experience high stress or have a history of cardiovascular events in your family, it may be wise to talk to your doctor about scheduling a test to monitor your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Measuring your estimated GFR levels can determine how well your kidneys are working to clean your blood. Finding the right treatment and stress management plan can help promote health and wellness.

2. You can’t concentrate or feel fatigued

Frequent fatigue can be a sign of numerous conditions and can be caused by a variety of factors, such as your diet and exercise routine, stress level, medical history and mental health. It can also be a sign of kidney failure, due to the toxins that build up in your blood.

When your kidneys can’t filter wastes and fluids out of your bloodstream properly, you may start to feel shaky or tired. If you notice that you feel weak and achy throughout the day, or have a hard time concentrating at work, talk to your doctor about whether this could be a sign of kidney damage.

3. Your day is disrupted by trips to the restroom

When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, you may experience an increased urge to urinate due to infection or excess fluids, foamy or bubbly urine due to increased protein in your system, or blood in your urine due to ruptured blood cells.

If your day is disrupted by constant trips to the restroom, if you experience chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) or if you have any of the above discomforts while urinating, it may be time to see a doctor about your kidneys and get a urine creatinine test.

4.You have dry or itchy skin

While the kidneys’ primary job is to filter toxins out of the blood, they also help produce red blood cells, promote strong bones and regulate minerals in the body. When the kidneys aren’t able to maintain the right balance of minerals and nutrients in the blood, you may experience skin irritation, redness or swelling. Dry and itchy skin can sometimes accompany bone and mineral disease that is often related to CKD.

If detected early enough, these symptoms can be treated relatively easily. If they’ve persisted over time, your doctor may have additional recommendations.

5. Your legs, feet or ankles are swollen

Swelling and water retention could be a sign of health conditions and aren’t exclusive to kidney damage. However, if you notice your legs, feet or ankles are swollen, and getting up to move around doesn’t seem to help, it’s possible you could be retaining sodium in your body that your kidneys are unable to filter out.

It’s important to listen to your body when it feels off. If you experience any combination of these discomforts, you may benefit from talking to your doctor or scheduling a blood test to ensure your kidneys are functioning as they should.

Worried about your health? If you're aged 40-74 you can get a free NHS health check