Your kidneys are vital to your health. It is crucial that you watch for early warning signs of issues or problems you may be experiencing that could lead to kidney failure.
What do the kidneys do in the body?
The primary function of your kidneys is to filter out the toxins built up in your body. If your kidneys begin to cease to function properly, it can lead to a plethora of health problems. It can ultimately lead to the need for dialysis.
Kidney function is measured by how well the kidneys remove toxins from the blood by using a measurement called the Glomerular Filtration Rate, or GFR. There are five stages of kidney functioning. Stage 1 denotes normal or high-functioning kidneys, whereas stage 5 is end-stage renal (kidney) failure. Each subsequent stage from 2 through 4 indicates a percentage of the decline in GFR.
It is important to know that the initial decline of kidney functions, or renal disease, is often silent. The best way to prevent kidney injury is to moderate changes in your overall health and always consult with a doctor if anything seems out of the norm.
Here are three signs that could indicate that you are beginning to experience a decline in kidney function.
1. Dizziness and Fatigue
One of the first possible signs of weakening kidneys is the experience of overall weakness in yourself and your overall health. This can include feelings of dizziness or fatigue due to a build-up of toxins in the blood. Oddly enough, another fatiguing disorder, anemia, can be linked to kidney problems. If you find that you are unusually tired, don’t panic. This can also be caused by stress, overwork, or other typical day-to-day issues. But if you are getting enough rest and still feel more fatigued than normal, especially if you are finding yourself dizzy, see your physician immediately. Tell her or him what you are experiencing and ask that he refer you to a Kidney Specialist (Nephrologist) to be on the safe side. It’s best if your General Practitioner (GP) works with a Kidney Specialist on a regular basis, so you get the best overall care.
2. Swelling (Edema)
Though there are several causes of swelling, if you are swelling in your legs, ankles, wrist, or even around your eyes, this could be a sign that your kidneys are not functioning properly. This is often caused by electrolyte or other nutritional abnormalities that affect the proper filtration capacity of the kidneys. Lower extremity swelling can be a sign of heart disease, kidney disease, or other forms of poor circulation.
3. Changes in urination
A third possible sign of beginning kidney injury is a change in urination. Things like changes in the amount of urine, foaming, pale or dark urine, or red coloring could be a warning sign that you may be experiencing a problem. Whether or not the problem is simply dehydration or the beginning of severe kidney dysfunction, your doctor or specialist in the field can determine the issues.
With the exception of some acute (or immediate) problems, including seeing blood in the urine or an inability to urinate, or such isolated conditions in pregnancy like pre-eclampsia, kidney failure often moves through the five stages slowly. Noticing changes, including these three signs, can alert you and your doctor of potential problems early where intervention can often slow or halt progression. Always remember to drink plenty of water to aid in the filtration process and contact your doctor if you begin to experience any of these signs.
If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP and talk about your next best steps. You mustn’t wait to get this checked out. The earlier renal failure is detected the better the chances of staving off major problems. No one wants to get to the point where dialysis is needed. Not all GPs work hand in hand with doctors who understand the issues of kidney problems the way a doctor who specializes in the health of one’s kidneys does. Be sure that your doctors work together and communicate with you about your options and the best choices you can make. If you are experiencing renal failure, there will be changes to your diet and your lifestyle that must be made. You will need to talk to both your GP and your Nephrologist to create a best-practice plan for your health.
At PRINE Health, we have both general practitioners and Nephrologists on staff who will work together to create the best plan for you. Please contact us if you would like more information.