8 subtle signs there could be something wrong with your kidneys

  • High blood pressure can be the cause of or a symptom of kidney disease.
  • Since the kidneys are part of the urinary tract, any issues with urination, including increased or reduced frequency of it, could be a sign of kidney problems.
  • Anemia is a sign that your kidneys could be producing less red blood cells, so many symptoms of anemia could also be symptoms of kidney disease.
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Kidneys are the two organs that live on either side of one’s back just below the rib cage. They filter about 200 quarts of your blood per day to help your body eliminate waste and, although many people have two of them, it’s also possible to function with one.

Kidneys are also capable of regulating your blood pressure, manufacturing new red blood cells, and controlling acid levels in your body. Because they do so much, a variety of symptoms can arise if you’re experiencing issues with these vital organs,

Here are some signs that there could be an issue with your kidneys.

Keep in mind that if you feel you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to consult a doctor immediately.

You have extremely high blood pressure

Kidneys use a lot of blood vessels to filter toxins, so they’re closely connected to your circulatory system, meaning they can be linked to your blood pressure.

Per the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure and sudden hypertension (high blood pressure) could be a sign of a kidney issue.

You’re urinating more than usual

The urinary tract includes the kidneys, meaning any issues related to urination could be the sign of an issue with your kidneys. For example, a kidney infection is one of the possible causes of frequent urination.

You’re urinating less often than usual or not at all

If you’re not urinating a few times a day, you may have a kidney issue.
Darren Foreman / Flickr

Per Healthline, a lower-than-average output of urine, oliguria, and the “complete absence of urine,” anuria, can both be signs of a kidney-related issue.

The kidneys filter waste through the body which exits through urine, so not being able to urinate could be a sign of a urinary tract obstruction. Coupled with an extreme inclination to urinate, this low or nonexistent output of urine could be a sign of a kidney stone or other urinary issues.

When left untreated, any of these issues may cause serious kidney damage.

Experiencing common symptoms of anemia, like fatigue and dizziness, may also be a sign that you have a kidney issue

Anemia, a condition in which someone does not have enough healthy red blood cells, is a common side effect of kidney disease and a sign of kidney issues.

The kidney normally produces the hormone erythropoietin, also known as epoetin, or EPO, that alerts the bone marrow to make new red blood cells. With a decreased supply of red blood cells, the body contains less oxygen, which can lead to fatigue.

Dizziness is also a common symptom of anemia and experiencing difficulty focusing or standing up could also be signs that your body is not creating enough new red blood cells, which could be related to your kidney function.

Other symptoms of anemia include pale skin, leg cramps, insomnia, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat, so a comprehensive diagnosis of this condition could lead to the discovery of kidney-related issues.

Read More: 5 subtle signs of the common blood disorder, anemia

You keep feeling confused or your memory isn’t as great as it normally is

A 2012 study from Temple University found that “decreased kidney function is associated with decreased cognitive functioning in areas such as global cognitive ability, abstract reasoning, and verbal memory.”

On a more extreme note, kidney failure can cause toxins to enter the brain, which can cause delirium, a state of mind that’s marked by major confusion.

There’s blood in your urine

Hematuria (the presence of blood in one’s urine) is enough to send anyone to a trip to the doctor, where you could be diagnosed with a variety of things including a kidney stone, kidney infection, cystic kidney disease, a tumor, or a kidney injury.

But blood in your urine isn’t always a sign of a major kidney issue. There are also more benign causes of hematuria, including extreme exercise or the commonly misdiagnosed excessive consumption of beets, labeled as “beeturia.”

You’re experiencing pain in certain parts of your lower back

Kidney issues may cause you to experience a bit of pain on one or both sides of your back.
Shutterstock

Generally, kidney pain will occur near your lower back and it will typically be more concentrated on the sides of your body. Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and injuries are some of the common causes of this type of pain.

The kidney pain may be sharp or dull or concentrated on one or both sides of your body. Depending on its cause, the pain could also extend further south if a kidney stone is traveling through your body or a kidney infection has spread to your bladder.

Read More: 6 things that could actually be making your lower back pain worse

You have swollen hands, eyes, ankles, or feet

The edema (swelling) of your hands or feet may be caused by kidney disease in some cases, per WebMD. When edema associated with kidney disease, your body may retain extra salt and fluid in your legs and around your eyes due to poor blood circulation.

But swelling isn’t always a cause for major kidney-related concern. Edema has a lot of potential causes and it also commonly experienced by people who are pregnant or on certain medications.

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