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What Happens When Kidneys Fail & Signs That Indicate It

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ashok Sarin 88% (46 ratings)
MD, MBBS, FRCP - Nephrology
Nephrologist, Delhi  •  48 years experience
What Happens When Kidneys Fail & Signs That Indicate It

A lot of bad things can and do happen when the kidneys fail.  The kidneys are vital for proper bodily functioning because they filter liquid and solid waste products out of the blood and allow vital chemicals (which the body needs for functioning) to flow into the body through the bloodstream.  People can become very sick when the kidneys either fail to perform these functions or fail to perform them properly.  Many people will get chronic kidney disease, therefore, they need to know what the causes and symptoms are in order to treat, and even prevent these diseases from occurring.

People who suddenly experience the following symptoms should see a nephrologist as soon as possible for a medical examination:  blood or protein in the urine, kidney stones, acute kidney injury, kidney infections, and/or pain, and Hepatitis C and kidney disease.  

Blood in the urine can be a sign of kidney problems which can lead to kidney disease.  Additionally, people who urinate frothy or bubbly urine, or have swelling in the hands, face, and feet should see a doctor because this is a sign of protein in the urine.  Protein in the urine can be detected by a urine test.  Kidney stones can be very painful and are problematic.  They are caused by mineral buildup in the kidneys.  Men and white people tend to get kidney stones more, and they can cause blood in the urine, painful urination, sharp lower abdominal or back pain, and nausea and vomiting.

Acute kidney injury occurs when the kidneys stop functioning altogether in a short period of time.  Because this disease can be deadly, those with this disease should get immediate medical help.  Usually, the very sick patients in hospitals get this disease, but it can also be caused by certain medicines, injury, or infections.  This type of kidney disease is easily reversible. 

Symptoms include

  1. Not passing enough urine when urinating
  2. Leg, ankle, or feet swelling
  3. Fatigue
  4. Breathing problems
  5. Confusion
  6. Nausea, and chest pressure or pain

Kidney infections tend to be caused by bacteria that have spread from the urinary tract.  Women, because of their anatomy, tend to get kidney infections more than men. 

Symptoms include:

  1. Fever
  2. Vomiting
  3. Back, side or groin pain
  4. Chills
  5. Nausea
  6. Frequent urination
  7. Frequent urges to urinate
  8. Painful or burning urination
  9. Pus or blood in the urine
  10. Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

Kidney pain in the lower back or sides can signify more serious kidney problems.  They can be caused by urinary tract infections, polycystic kidney disease, kidney infections, blood clots, and/or bleeding in the kidneys.  
Hepatitis C is a disease that attacks the liver and can cause kidney disease.  

Symptoms include

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Nausea
  3. Fever
  4. Fatigue
  5. Vomiting
  6. Dark colored urine
  7. Grey colored stool
  8. Joint pain
  9. Yellow skin and eyes

While kidney diseases are at best unpleasant, and at worst, life-threatening, they can be avoided by drinking lots of water, eating a healthy low salt diet, and watching for any changes in health and urine over time. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
 

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