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Symptoms and Diagnosis

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?

Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease can help people detect it early enough to get treatment. Symptoms can include the following:        

Changes in urination - Urinating in bigger or smaller amounts than usual, feeling pressure when urinating, changes in the colour of urine, foamy or bubbly urine or having to get up at night to urinate.  

Swelling of the feet, ankles, hands or face - Liquids the kidneys can't remove may accumulate in the tissues. 

Fatigue or weakness - A build-up of toxins or a shortage of red blood cells (anaemia) can cause these problems when the kidneys begin to fail.        

Shortness of breath - Kidney failure is sometimes confused with asthma or heart failure because fluid can build up in the lungs.        

Ammonia breath or an ammonia or metal taste in the mouth - Waste build-up in the body can cause bad breath, changes in taste or an aversion to protein-rich foods such as meat.  

Back or side pain - The kidneys are located on either side of the spine, in the back.        

Itching - Waste build-up in the body can cause severe itching, especially of the legs.        

Loss of appetite.        

Nausea and vomiting.        

More hypoglycaemic episodes - This is applicable to people with diabetes.        
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about your concerns. This is especially important if you have a close family member who has kidney disease, or if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, which are the main causes of kidney failure.


How Can I Find Out If I Have Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease can be found or confirmed through lab tests. High blood levels of creatinine and urea or high levels of protein in your urine suggest kidney disease. Diabetics should have a yearly urine test for the presence of micro albumin, small amounts of protein that don't show up on standard urine protein test.

If I Have Signs of Kidney Disease, What Should I Do?

After you have basic screening tests done, if you have signs of kidney disease, you should ask for a referral to a nephrologist, a specialist in treating kidney disease. A nephrologist will perform an evaluation then suggest medications or lifestyle changes to help slow the progression of kidney disease.        

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