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Published on November 15th, 2019 | by Michaelw


5 signs you may have kidney disease

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Hello, this is Katherine, welcome to 00Kidney.
In today’s video I’ll show you 5 signs and symptoms that may tell you if you have kidney damage or even chronic kidney disease.
Maybe you are wondering if that back pain you are having is a symptom of renal failure or if the foam you’re seeing in the urine is actually caused by a leakage from the kidneys.
Understanding the symptoms of kidney failure is not easy because we are talking about a disease that progresses over the years with very few symptoms, if any at all.
What makes it even harder to tell if a symptom is caused by kidney disease is the non-specificity of the symptoms.
This means that almost all the symptoms usually associated with kidney disease are often found in a lot of other conditions too.
So I’ve made this video for all those people who are not sure if the symptoms they are seeing are actually signs of kidney damage or kidney problems or if they are just a false alarm.
Symptoms like fatigue, back pain, change in the urination patterns or maybe erectile dysfunction in males… yes kidney disease can cause even erectile dysfunction… are caused by several medical conditions, not just by kidney damage.
So today I’ll show you exactly how to understand what your body is telling you about the health of your kidneys and if you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor right away to get tested.
But… Please understand that having just one of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have kidney disease or a kidney damage.
But do not ignore the symptoms either.
You should be proactive if you suspect that you have kidney problems.
Most of the times, doctors don’t look for kidney disease and don’t get you tested for it until you show a lot of symptoms. And that would mean that you’re already in an advanced stage.

And this can be an issue, because the sooner this disease is diagnosed, the better the treatment options are.
Now, as you can see, chronic kidney disease is divided into 5 stages.
This is a disease that progresses slowly over time. Some doctors call it the silent killer, because, as you can see, it has no symptoms in the first stages and when you see the symptoms it means that you are already in stage 3 and your kidneys have less than 50% of their function left.

Now, if you can get diagnosed in stage 2 or 3 you would be able to make some simple changes in your lifestyle and stop the progression of the disease. But it will require a lot more effort to fight it if you only get diagnosed in stage 4 or 5.
Unfortunately, it’s a lot more common to get diagnosed in stage 4 or 5 than in stage 2 because the symptoms are more noticeable.
And this is not just a problem, it’s a real world epidemic.
Let’s talk about this just for a second.

The number of people with kidney disease is growing at an alarming rate. And there is no sign of a decrease in sight.
1 in 7 North Americans have chronic kidney disease, 37 million people.
Now, if we consider the population over the age of 65, 1 in 4 has this condition.
The scariest part is that a lot of people suffer from chronic kidney disease without knowing it.
According to the statistics I have here, 96% of people with kidney disease reached the advanced stages without even knowing they had a problem.
If I’m saying these things, if I’m showing you these statistics is to raise the awareness about the hidden danger of chronic kidney disease.
People need to know.
So don’t forget to share this video with anyone you know that suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure or is over 65 years old, so they may start to take better care of themselves BEFORE they develop kidney disease.
This is important because if you have a symptom that only shows up in stage 4, like for example trouble breathing, knowing that this is only a symptom of the advanced stages of kidney disease will help you understand if the symptom is actually a sign of kidney problems or not.
This is because chronic kidney disease takes years to get to the advanced stages, stage 4 and 5, so if you have let’s say just a symptom only present in stage 4 chances are that some other conditions is causing it.
Now, to make this presentation easier to understand I’ve made some slides with everything you need to know about the early symptoms of kidney disease.

For example, this is the very first symptom that a lot of people have, probably the only symptom that could be already present in stage 2 of kidney disease.
From this slide you can see when the symptom starts to appear.

I’ve also listed what other conditions can cause the same symptom, so you can rule them off.
For each symptom I’ve also listed when to see a doctor and if there’s a treatment that’s specific for that symptom.
1) Foam in the urine
As I was saying, this is in many cases the very first symptom of kidney disease.
But we shouldn’t confuse normal bubbles with foam.
Bubbles mean nothing, while foam can be a sign of protein in the urine.
If there is protein in the urine, and you need to get tested to be sure of that, it could mean that you’re kidneys are not working properly.
Ok, so how can you tell if it’s protein in the urine or just normal bubbles?
Normal bubbles are bigger, clear and flushable and everyone will have bubbles in the toilet after urinating.
Foam ,on the other hand, is white, and it stays in the toilet after you flush.
So if you see a foam similar to what you can find on the top of a freshly spilled beer, that definitely could be proteinuria.
“What condition can cause foam in the urine other than kidney damage? “
Being under stress, a very intense workout, or being pregnant can cause foamy urine too.
Urine can foam up even when it’s too concentrated, so don’t rush to your doctor at the first sight of some bubbles.
“What’s the cause of foamy urine in people with kidney disease? “
Foamy urine is caused by proteinuria or albuminuria.
It’s caused by the leakage of the protein albumin from the kidneys.
This protein should be in your blood, not in your urine.
If the analysis find this protein in the urine, it means that the kidneys are not working at their best.
It’s very often the first sign of kidney disease, basically the only symptom that you can already have in stage 2.

“When to see a doctor”:
You should see your doctor if you have persistently foamy urine that becomes more noticeable over time.
See a doctor if this symptom comes with other symptoms or risk factors of kidney disease.
So, if you have this symptom, don’t worry. It’s still not guaranteed that you have kidney disease.
But get tested again to see if it gets worse and get tested for kidney function too.
Other changes in the urine you should be on the look out for are the changes in color and of your bathroom habits.
Because another very frequent symptom of kidney problems is the change in the urination patterns.
If you start to got to the bathroom more often than usual in combination with foamy urines, that could be a sign.
Go to your doctor immediately if you see blood in the urine.
Next, symptom,
2) fatigue
Another very common early symptom of kidney disease.
Now, we should distinguish between fatigue, which is a symptom, and being tired, which is normal and happens to everyone.
Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy that doesn’t go away.
When you’re fatigued, you have no motivation and no energy and you may even have trouble concentrating.
It isn’t the same as simply feeling drowsy or sleepy.
Being sleepy or tired is usually solved with sleeping well.
But if fatigue is a symptom, it won’t go away, even after 8 full hours of sleep.
And it’s even hard to sleep, actually, if fatigue is caused by kidney disease.
Some patients are so tired they can’t even sleep.

“In what stage does this symptom show up?” Usually, it can be visible in patient with stage 3 of chronic kidney disease or in the more advanced stages.
Unlike protein in the urine, if you have this symptom it could mean that kidney damage has already progressed. It could mean that the kidneys have already lost about 50% of their function.
“As you can see from my slide, fatigue is also a symptom of several other medical conditions.”
These include arthritis, infections such as the flu, thyroid disorders, sleep disorders, eating disorders, autoimmune disorders and even cancer, diabetes and liver disease.
So fatigue alone means very little, actually.
“When to see a doctor?” In case this symptom gets worse and worse over time, or in presence of other symptoms of kidney disease, chances are that fatigue is actually being cause by kidney disease.
So get tested immediately if you have it for example in combination with foam in the urine and swelling.
“What’s the cause of fatigue in people suffering from kidney disease? “
here uremia and anemia
Uremia or anemia or both.
A severe decrease in kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood.
This is called uremia and is the condition that causes most of the symptoms visible in the advanced stages of kidney disease.
This can cause people to feel tired, weak and can make it hard to concentrate.

Another complication that can cause fatigue in kidney disease patients is anemia.
Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues.
This would make it very easy for you to get out of breath even just doing the slightest activity like getting up out of a chair or walking across a room.
Having anemia can make you feel tired and weak because your muscles and brain need oxygen to function.
“What are the treatments for fatigue?”
Treatment for fatigue should be aimed to treat the cause of this condition.
Anemia is treatable in kidney patients usually with iron supplements and erythropoietin, a hormone involved in the production of red blood cells.
If the symptom is caused by uremia, then the treatment should be aimed to treat kidney disease.

3 Kidney Pain
Ok, another symptom of kidney disease already present in stage 3 is kidney pain, even if it’s more common in stage 4 and 5.
Kidney pain should not be confused with back pain or muscle skeletal pain because they’re caused by totally different problems.
how do we tell if it’s kidney pain or a back injury?
Muscular or skeletal back pain is usually in a slightly different location from kidney pain.
Back pain caused by a back injury is usually situated in the lower back.
The kidneys are located towards your back, inside the ribcage.
So kidney pain is usually in a higher position than back pain.
So, if you feel the pain coming from inside the ribcage, it may be from the kidneys.
If it’s coming from outside the ribcage, it’s usually from the muscles.
Another way to understand if it’s kidney pain or just back pain is looking at the other symptoms you may have.
So, having pain in your back or sides does not necessarily mean there is something wrong with your kidneys.
Now, if the pain is actually coming from the kidneys, it’s possible to have pain on only one side if only one kidney has a problem, or both sides if both kidneys are affected.
“What can kidney pain be a symptom of”, other than kidney disease?
If the pain you feel is coming from your kidneys, there are other conditions that can cause this symptom. UTIs. If an infection of the urinary tract reaches the kidneys it can cause kidney pain.
Kidney stones are another common cause of kidney pain.

When should you see a doctor immediately?
If you are sure the pain it’s coming from the kidneys, all the conditions that may be causing it are serious. So contact your doctor if you are reasonably sure that the back pain you’re having is coming from the kidneys.
There are even cases in which a trip to the ER is absolutely needed.
Call 911 if you’re experiencing kidney pain with the following symptoms: Severe stomach pain, Loss of bladder or bowel control, High fever, blood in the urine, fatigue or a constant, dull, one-sided pain in your back or side.
Don’t try to make the pain pass with home remedies or just painkillers in these cases!
So, kidney pain can be a symptom of kidney disease you’re having it in combination with some other symptom of the disease.
“What’s the cause of kidney pain in kidney disease?”
For kidney disease to cause kidney pain, the kidney must be swelling.
This would mean that there’s a severe fluid retention in the kidney itself. This could be caused by an excess of potassium, sodium and fluids in the body that the kidneys wouldn’t be able to get rid of due to loss of kidney function.
And it’s rarely the very first symptom of this disease. Actually, this is a very severe, and not so common symptom, that only shows up in stage 4 and 5 of CKD, usually.
So if your back hurts, don’t immediately think about kidney disease, unless you have “other symptoms of kidney disease, like Foam in the urine, Swelling in the hands and feet and urinating more or less than normal.”

Next symptom of kidney damage, Swelling
People with kidney disease in the advanced stages will experience this symptom, swelling, or edema if we want to use a medical term.
Swelling is more frequent in the ankles and feet, but this symptom can even interest the hands, abdomen and chest.
As you can see from my slide, this symptom is sometimes also present in the 3rd stage of chronic kidney disease, so it can be an early sign of kidney damage if it appears in combination with other symptoms of kidney problems.
Swelling is not just a symptom of kidney disease. As you can see, it can also be caused by liver disease, heart failure and pregnancy in women. But also insect bites and injuries can cause swelling.
What’s causing swelling in kidney patients? Swelling is caused by a fluid buildup.
When the kidneys fail, they cannot keep up anymore with the fluid level in the body.
Gravity causes fluid to accumulate more in the feet and ankles, but also having swollen hands is not uncommon for people in stage 4 and 5 of kidney disease.
When should you see a doctor? If your swelling is accompanied by other symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath or chest pain or difficulty breathing… don’t wait anymore and call 911 now. This could be a very serious issue.
Call your doctor and schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you have swelling in combination with any other symptoms of kidney disease.

What are the treatments for swelling? Diuretics can help, but only your doctor can prescribe those medicines and only after diagnosing you.

Number 5 ok, this is not actually a symptom but it’s maybe even more important.
Because this is what’s actually causing the damage.
So if you have any of the symptoms I’ve shown you in this video, the first thing you have to check is if you have any of these risk factors for chronic kidney disease.
Because that would make it really more likely for the symptom to be caused by chronic kidney disease rather than any other of the many conditions that have the same symptoms.
So, risk factors for CKD are all those conditions you may have that can cause chronic kidney disease.

The very first one is diabetes. It’s the main cause of CKD.
Diabetes if not properly treated can lead to very serious kidney problems.
If you have diabetes and you see foam in the urine or any other symptom… don’t wait.
Act immediately. Get tested.
Same for high blood pressure.
Heart problems can cause kidney disease too, and we’re including even high cholesterol here.
Obesity is another condition that can damage the kidneys over time, causing kidney disease.
Then there’s family history of kidney disease, being a smoker or being 60 years old or more.
So if you have one or more of these risk factors and you see even just one symptom of kidney disease, don’t wait! get checked! Find out what the problem is and start to treat it as soon as you can.

This is all for today, thank you for watching.

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About the Author

Hi, my name is Michael and in this blog I'm gonna share the story of how I got off kidney dialysis for good. Getting off dialysis isn't easy at all, and that's why I'm trying to help people as much as I can.

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