Recognizing the Warning Signs of Kidney Failure


Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter blood and eliminate waste products from the body. This can lead to serious health problems, and it’s essential to recognize the warning signs of kidney failure and seek medical attention promptly. In this article, we will explore ten common symptoms of kidney failure and how you can identify the signs before it’s too late.

10 Common Symptoms of Kidney Failure You Shouldn’t Ignore

Here are ten common symptoms of kidney failure that you shouldn’t ignore:

Fatigue and Weakness

Feeling tired or weak is a common symptom of kidney failure. This is because the kidneys are responsible for producing a hormone called erythropoietin, which helps to produce red blood cells. When the kidneys are not functioning correctly, the body’s production of erythropoietin decreases, leading to a low red blood cell count, anemia, and fatigue.

Difficulty Sleeping

Kidney failure can cause difficulty sleeping due to an accumulation of toxins in the body. When the kidneys can’t filter waste, it builds up in the bloodstream, causing difficulty falling or staying asleep. This can lead to a cycle of fatigue, irritation and exacerbate other symptoms.

Swelling in Hands and Feet

Swelling in the hands, feet, and ankles is a common symptom of kidney failure. This occurs when the kidneys can’t remove excess fluid from the body, causing it to build up and result in swelling in peripheral tissues.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of kidney failure that can occur due to an increase in waste products in the body. Additionally, electrolyte imbalances often result from acute kidney failure, causing further complications with GI issues.

Loss of Appetite

Kidney failure can cause a loss of appetite due to the buildup of toxins and waste in the bloodstream. It’s important to maintain a healthy level of nutrition, so if you experience a significant decrease in appetite, seek medical attention.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath is an alarming symptom of kidney failure. This is due to the kidneys’ inability to control fluid buildup, leading to pulmonary edema (fluid collection in the lungs) and possible respiratory failure.

Urinary Problems

One of the most common symptoms of kidney failure is urinary problems. These issues can include difficulty urinating, pain or burning during urination, and blood in the urine. Paying attention to any abnormal urinary habits is crucial since it’s one of the leading warning signs of kidney failure.

Muscle Cramps

Electrolyte imbalances and fluid buildup from kidneys’ failure can lead to muscle cramps, particularly during exercise. Moreover, they may be particularly painful in the legs and back.

Skin Rash or Itching

Kidney failure can cause itchiness and skin rash due to increased levels of urea in the body. Urea, a byproduct of protein breakdown, can lead to uremic pruritus (itching) which causes the skin to feel dry and irritated.

Confusion or Difficulty Concentrating

Brain function is linked to kidney function, so when the kidneys are not filtering waste correctly, it can also impact the brain. This can lead to confusion, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.

How to Identify Signs of Kidney Failure Before It’s Too Late

If you are at risk or concerned about kidney failure, you can take preventative measures to identify it before it’s too late.

Regular Checkups and Blood Tests

Regular checkups, including blood tests, are essential for identifying kidney disease’s early stages, even if no symptoms are present.

Monitoring Blood Pressure

High blood pressure negatively impacts kidney function, causing kidney disease. By monitoring and controlling blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of developing kidney issues.

Maintaining a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Adopting a healthy diet rich in whole foods, low in sodium, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing kidney failure. Regular exercise and avoiding smoking also improve kidney health.

Being Aware of Personal Risk Factors

Serious health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and a family history of kidney disease, can increase the risk of kidney failure. It’s essential to monitor the symptoms that are consistent with kidney disease thoroughly if you are classified under these personal risk factors.

The Link Between Kidney Failure and These Surprising Symptoms

Although the symptoms mentioned earlier are often associated with kidney failure, some surprising symptoms may indicate kidney failure or kidney disease:


Kidney failure often leads to frequent urination, making it harder for people to get restful sleep, or even fall asleep in the first place.

Bad Breath

Kidney failure causes an accumulation of waste that can cause bad breath. Moreover, another condition associated with kidney problems is dry mouth. Dry mouth means that there is insufficient saliva in the mouth, which can lead to the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath.

Metallic Taste in Mouth

Uremia, a complication from kidney failure, can cause a metallic taste in the mouth or a fishy taste. This unusual taste can spread throughout the mouth, making eating or drinking unpleasant

Sudden Weight Loss

Kidneys regulate not only the amount of water in the body but also waste. If people who have kidney failure experience a sudden loss of weight without eating less or exercising more, it may be a result of not filtering properly.

Understanding the Early Warning Signs of Kidney Failure

Early warning signs of kidney failure should not be overlooked, especially if they persist or occur frequently. Some of these symptoms include:

Changes in Urine Color or Output

Urine color is an excellent indicator of overall health. A change in urine color may signal a problem, particularly if the urine looks cloudy, foamy, or darker than usual.

Frequent Urination or Urgency

Frequent urination is a common symptom of many conditions, including kidney disease. In addition, a sudden urgent need to urinate with no warning may indicate kidney failure.

Blood in Urine

Blood in urine is never normal. It can indicate a kidney stone, bladder infection, or a sign of kidney disease if it’s a more chronic issue.

Pain in Lower Back or Sides

Lower back pain or side pain is a common symptom of kidney disease. This pain can range from mild to severe and even radiate to the abdomen or groin area.

The Top 5 Symptoms of Kidney Failure You Need to Know

Although there are many symptoms of kidney failure, the top five signs that should not be ignored include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Urinary problems
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms can be linked to only kidney issues, but if they persist, please consult a health professional.

The Silent but Deadly Symptoms of Kidney Failure You Need to Watch Out For

Here are a few surprising “silent” symptoms of kidney failure you should watch out for:

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the primary causes of kidney disease and failure. People with high blood pressure must keep it under control to avoid damage to kidneys.


Diabetes can have detrimental effects such as placing the kidneys under unnecessary work and can cause kidney failure if uncontrolled.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and many other heart-related problems are interlinked with kidney failure. These conditions can cause blood vessels to narrow, reducing blood flow to the kidneys and causing failure over time.

Family History

Family history can increase the risk of kidney disease even without the presence of lifestyle habits and unhealthy choices. Monitoring kidney health is extra critical with positive family history.

How to Distinguish Between Kidney Failure, Kidney Stones, and Other Kidney-Related Issues

Here are a few types of kidney disease and how they’re different:

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Symptoms of kidney stones can be similar to acute kidney failure and typically causes pain on one side of the lower back, abdomen or groin, and excessive urination with painful urination.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections

Symptoms of urinary tract infections, including pyelonephritis or upper UTIs, can cause fever, nausea, and vomiting, aside from urinary symptoms, which can complicate the diagnosis with kidney or urinary dysfunction.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Symptoms of kidney disease, including later stages of kidney failure, are often non-specific, but there may be edema or fluid collections around the body, fatigue, high blood pressure, and urine abnormalities.


Recognizing the early warning signs of kidney failure is crucial for maintaining good health. Seeking medical attention promptly and adhering to preventative measures can help you manage kidney disease better and improve your quality of life. Please take charge of your health, and if in doubt, seek the advice of your healthcare provider.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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