Medical Specialties:
Nephrology, Care of the Kidneys

  • Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease / Failure

    The signs and symptoms of kidney disease/failure vary, depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. However, only your physician can make an accurate diagnosis.

    Acute kidney failure
    Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop filtering waste products from your blood. The signs and symptoms may include:

    Fluid retention
    Bleeding, often in the stomach or intestines
    Confusion
    Seizures
    Coma

    Chronic kidney failure
    According to the National Kidney Foundation, almost 20 million adult Americans have chronic kidney disease (1 in 9 adults) and most don’t even know it. More than 20 million are at increased risk of developing it. Over time, chronic kidney failure can lead to congestive heart failure, weak bones, stomach ulcers and damage to the central nervous system. Unfortunately, signs and symptoms often don't appear until irreversible damage has occurred. They include:

    • Abnormal urine tests
    • High blood pressure
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Anemia
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Malaise or fatigue
    • Headaches that seem unrelated to any other cause
    • Decreased urine output
    • Decreased mental sharpness
    • Muscle twitches and cramps
    • Bleeding in the intestinal tract
    • Yellowish-brown cast to the skin
    • Unusual itching
    • Sleep disorders

    End-stage renal disease
    End-stage renal disease is the final stage of chronic kidney failure. At this point, kidney function is so poor that either dialysis or kidney transplantation is needed to sustain life. A number of complications may develop with end-stage renal disease, depending on how rapidly it occurs, including:

    • Anemia
    • High blood pressure
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Bone disease
    • Digestive tract problems
    • Loss of mental functioning (dementia)

  • Treatment Options

    Dialysis is the only treatment for kidney failure. It may also be used as a temporary treatment while awaiting transplant.
    Learn More About Kidney Dialysis

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