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Chronic Kidney Disease Symptoms

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Learn about warning signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is sometimes  known as a “silent” disease. In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, people may not feel sick at all. People may not experience warning signs of kidney disease until their disease has progressed. That’s why it’s important to know what the common symptoms are and to pay attention to clues your body may give. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these warning signs:

  • Changes in urination: like foamy urine, blood in the urine, more or less urine than usual, or getting up at night to urinate.
  • Fatigue: lack of usual energy and feelings of overwhelming tiredness can be related to kidney failure.
  • Itching: build up of wastes in the blood can cause severe itching.
  • Swelling in the hands and/or feet: failing kidneys do not remove extra fluid, which builds up in the body and can cause swelling.
  • Shortness of breath: extra fluid can build up in the lungs, or anemia can cause shortness of breath.
  • Pain in the small of the back: the pain is not made worse by movement.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, other symptoms of kidney disease can include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • A poor appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle cramping at night
  • Puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning

Know your GFR flow

GFR (glomerular filtration rate) is a measure of how well your kidneys are working. It helps your doctor diagnose kidney disease by determining how well your kidneys are cleaning your blood.

Learn about diagnosis


What you can do to keep your kidneys working longer

If you or someone you know is concerned about chronic kidney disease, follow these four simple steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): 

  1. Get tested for kidney disease.
  2. Understand risk factors and do what you can to prevent or treat them.
  3. Get screened for common causes. 
  4. See a nephrologist (a doctor who has special training in kidney diseases).

Learn about the stages of chronic kidney disease and get tips for each stage that can help maintain kidney function.

  • 1. National Kidney Foundation website. About Chronic Kidney Disease. Updated August 30, 2011. Accessed February 21, 2014.
  • 2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014 National Chronic Disease Fact Sheet. Updated January 10, 2014. Accessed February 21, 2014.

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Living with Chronic Kidney Disease - CKD Brochures

Get important information and helpful tips about living with chronic kidney disease.


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