Early Signs of Kidney Failure

By Michaele Curtis

Your kidneys are important bean-shaped organs that remove the waste products and excess materials from your circulation system. They also release important hormones that regulate blood pressure, promote red blood cell production and help build strong bones. Kidney failure is a serious condition with no cure except dialysis or kidney transplant. However, the earlier kidney failure is detected, the better your prognosis.


Kidney disease if often called a silent killer because it can go on for years without any symptoms. The first and sometimes only symptom of kidney failure is high blood pressure or hypertension. Your kidneys use your blood pressure as essential part of their filtering process and release hormones that help maintain that blood pressure at safe levels. Although high blood pressure is a symptom of many common conditions, your health care provider will likely be concerned about your kidney health if you are diagnosed with hypertension. Further tests and monitoring of kidney function normally follow.


Your kidneys are the main organs involved in your urinary system; their primary function is to remove waste products from your blood. Urea is considered one of those waste products and is used to make urine. Uremia, the buildup of urea in your blood, occurs when your kidneys stop working. If the amount of urea in your blood gets too high, it can be poisonous to your body. Uremia is very dangerous and can cause your brain, your heart and your muscles to stop functioning.


Edema is the unusual swelling of your body parts, usually your extremities like your hands or feet. It can even affect the areas around your eyes. Your kidneys work to remove excess water from your blood's circulation. If your kidneys go into renal failure, they cannot do that and that water finds other places to go, like your extremities. Swollen ankles, puffy facial features and swollen fingers are all signs that your kidneys may be failing.


Another early symptom of kidney failure is anemia, or an oxygen deficiency in your blood. Your kidneys release hormones that promote red blood cell production. Red blood cells carry oxygen through your body to the cells that need it to function. When your kidneys fail, they do not produce the hormones needed and you develop a low blood cell count. With reduced oxygen, you will not feel the same amount of energy you have had in the past. You may feel unexplained weakness or fatigue.

Metabolic Acidosis

Metabolic acidosis, an abnormal acidity of your blood, can also be an early sign of kidney failure. To maintain viable life function, a proper pH level is very important. The kidneys help maintain proper pH by producing bicarbonate to counteract acidity. Failed kidneys do not produce the bicarbonate needed to balance your body's pH. Metabolic acidosis is very serious. If your failed kidneys lead to this condition, it can lead to coma or even death.

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