Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most common kidney conditions in the United States, affecting roughly 37 million Americans. Despite its prevalence, approximately 90 percent of people living with CKD are unaware that they have it. Experts dub chronic kidney disease a “silent killer,” because the condition usually produces few and nonspecific symptoms, and thus, it often goes undiagnosed until irreversible damage has already occurred.
It pays to always be vigilant and listen to your body, especially if you have risk factors like diabetes and hypertension. If you notice the following symptoms, especially when they have become persistent, ask your primary care physician for a referral to a kidney doctor (nephrologist) to get the specialized care you need.
The primary function of your kidneys is to rid your blood of waste products (urea) and produce urine to eliminate them from your body.
Kidney malfunction can cause the following urinary problems:
- Increased urge to urinate but less urine output;
- Unusual color or smell of urine;
- Presence of blood or foam in urine;
- Painful urination.
Fatigue in people with CKD usually has more than one cause:
- Anemia- When your kidneys are not functioning properly, they tend to secrete less erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that prompts your bone marrow—the spongy tissue found in the center of most of your bones—to manufacture red blood cells. Low red blood cell count means your body has to work harder to transport enough oxygen to your tissues.
- Toxin buildup- A decline in kidney function can lead to the buildup of toxins in the blood.
Since your kidneys play a vital role in the regulation of fluids in your body, a decline in their function can predictably cause electrolyte imbalance.
Electrolytes—calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium—are electrically charged minerals that your body requires to be able to perform much of its work, such as producing energy, contracting your muscles; and keeping your cardiac, digestive, and nervous systems in optimal condition.
Muscle cramps are among the common signs of electrolyte imbalance.
Edema is another sign that your kidneys are no longer functioning as they should. Edema is swelling caused by the accumulation of excess fluid in your body’s tissues. It often occurs in the feet, ankles, and legs.
Other Signs that Warrant a Visit to a Kidney Doctor
Aside from what’s mentioned above, chronic kidney disease may also cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Puffiness around the eyes (periorbital edema)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- “Ammonia breath” and a metallic taste in the mouth (dysgeusia)
- Weight loss due to lack of appetite
- Sleep problems
- Itchy skin (uremic pruritis)
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
Kidney Doctors in Norfolk and Natick, Massachusetts
At Commonwealth Nephrology Associates, our board-certified nephrologists offer the highest quality of medical care for the entire range of kidney conditions. We have helped countless men and women throughout Massachusetts live well with CKD. Let us help you as well!
We have satellite offices in Attleboro, Dorchester, Marlborough, South Weymouth, and Westwood.