Some people may describe swelling in their legs, ankles, feet, hands, bellies, and/or around their eyes. This is called edema (a-deema), and the extra fluid build-up can be a sign of significant kidney disease, as the kidneys are unable to rid the body of excess salt and water.
|Signs Of Kidney Disease In Women|
Edema can also be a sign of excessive protein leakage by the kidneys into the urine - called proteinuria, as previously mentioned. The leakage of large amounts of protein into the urine can cause fluid to accumulate in the body, particularly in the legs. The fluid buildup can also cause a dramatic increase in body weight. Those affected may have difficulty putting on their shoes or buttoning their pants because of significant edema.
If you begin to notice any or all of the above symptoms in yourself or a loved one, call your doctor right away. Depending upon the cause of the edema, you may be referred to a kidney specialist.
If kidney function has worsened to the point that the kidneys are no longer working, patients may describe what doctors call "uremic (your-ee-mick) symptoms." When it has reached this level of severity, the kidneys can no longer filter and eliminate toxins. As a result, these substances accumulate in the blood, eventually reaching dangerous levels.
Uremic symptoms can include nausea, dry heaves, vomiting, excessive tiredness, lethargy, loss of appetite, loss of taste, food having a metallic taste, difficulty concentrating, abnormal sleeping patterns, hiccups, and/or severe itching all over without any other symptom. I have had several patients describe the last two symptoms as their only complaints. And sometimes, the only presenting symptom is something as subtle as, "I just don't feel right."
The important point is this: Many patients with kidney disease will feel fine. So again, at the bare minimum, I advocate for everyone to see their doctor at least once a year for an annual physical with blood work - even those people with no history or risk factors of kidney disease. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reviewing your blood work with your doctor, as it is the primary determining factor in diagnosing kidney disease.
WHICH BLOOD AND URINE TESTS ARE USED?
When your primary care physician or kidney specialist, also called a nephrologist (nef-ralla-gist), examines your blood work report, his or her primary concern is: How well are your kidneys doing their filtering job? The following tests and test results aid doctors in finding the answer.
Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)
If you recall, the small filters within the kidneys are called glomeruli. One important part of routine blood work reports is the Glomerular Filtration Rate, or GFR. The GFR is a calculated value and is an indication of how well the millions of glomeruli are working together, or at what rate and capacity your kidneys are filtering. This is the single most important piece of information your doctor needs, as it indicates the presence and severity of kidney disease.
Creatinine Level and Its Relation to the GFR
A common blood test your doctor may order is called the creatinine (cre-a-ti-nine), and it provides a hint of what your kidney function may be. It is a separate kidney-specific blood test included in the routine blood work the doctor orders. Creatinine is a material made by your muscles and filtered by your kidneys. In general, the lower the creatinine number, the better the kidney function. Some doctors may look solely at this number as an indicator of kidney function. However, looking at the creafinine level alone is not enough to properly evaluate kidney function. In fact, the creatinine level is important only because it is used to calculate the GFR.
For the past several years, routine blood work has included a value calculation called an electronic GFR (eGFR). The lab automatically calculates the eGFR based on the creatinine level. The eGFR has proven invaluable in diagnosing kidney disease that otherwise would have been missed if a doctor had relied solely on the creatinine level. To find out more, you can check out Signs Of Kidney Disease In Women.