Often, the first sign of a kidney problem will be an abnormality in your blood work, which will be discussed in more detail a little later in this chapter. If you see your doctor on a regular basis, chances are you have had routine blood work done. If that is the case, keep getting it done at least once a year. If you have never had blood work done, now is the time to start.
|Whats The Symptoms Of Kidney Failure|
Many of my patients, after hearing about their abnormal blood test results, will ask, "I feel okay and I urinate fine, so how can there be a problem with my kidneys?" The fact is that many people with both mild and advanced kidney disease may not experience any symptoms at all.
This is one of the major concerns kidney doctors face. Some people can feel perfectly normal, yet have significantly advanced kidney disease. On the flip side, there are many people who will show signs of kidney disease. There are any number of symptoms that one can experience, so it is important to be alert to the changes noted below and to take the time to investigate what could be either a potential clue or sign of serious kidney damage.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY DISEASE?
You know your own body better than any doctor. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the signals it sends you. We will first briefly review the signs and symptoms that can be seen in kidney disease - the things you should be looking out for - and then focus on the blood work that can signal the presence of kidney disease. If you notice any of the following indications in yourself, get to a doctor to have it checked.
Proteinuria (Protein in the Urine) and/or Hematuria (Blood in the Urine)
One symptom of kidney disease that some people describe concerns changes in either the color or consistency of their urine. They may describe their urine as being frothy or bubbly, which can be a sign of protein leakage in the kidney. This is called proteinuria (pro-teen-urea) and is discussed more later.
Others may notice tea- or dark-colored urine, or gross blood in the urine, which is called hematuria (heem-a-turea). Hematuria can mean many things. If back pain is present, it can be a sign of a kidney stone or a kidney or bladder infection. It can also be a sign of a condition called nephritis (neff-frye-tiss), in which specific types of inflammatory conditions that can affect the kidneys are present. While beyond the scope of this blog, depending on your age and other health problems, hematuria can also be a symptom of cancer anywhere along the urinary tract. Blood in the urine should never be ignored; see your doctor as soon as possible if it is happening to you.
Problems with Urination
Men, especially those with an enlarged prostate, sometimes complain of difficulty with urine flow or maintaining a steady urinary stream. They may frequently make attempts to urinate throughout the night - a condition known as nocturia (knock-turea). This can also be a symptom of kidney disease. If the prostate is grossly enlarged, it may partially or totally block the flow of urine and worsen kidney function. If this is happening to you, your doctor will likely refer you to a urologist (your-ala-gist) - a type of surgical doctor who specializes in problems of the entire urinary tract.
Women, on the other hand, sometimes describe burning with urination, or the need to constantly go to the bathroom. Such symptoms could mean either a bladder infection or early kidney infection. There are some young women who, in childhood or early teenage years, suffered from frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). If you have a child or teenager with frequent UTIs (more than three to four a year), or if you are a young woman with recurrent UTIs, you should also consider seeing a urologist. Frequent UTls could result from the bladder - which, remember, is the temporary holding tank for urine - not emptying completely, or it can mean a problem elsewhere in the urinary tract. A urologist can pinpoint where the problem is and begin to treat it. If however, the problem is left untreated, it can affect kidney function over time.
Additionally, some patients - men and women - with diabetes may have trouble completely emptying their bladders. Urinary incontinence, often seen in elderly patients, is a common bladder emptying problem. However, not all problems with urination mean you have a bladder problem. Some people with very advanced kidney disease complain of difficulty urinating or note a decrease in the amount of urine they make. If you notice any changes in your urinary habits, you need to call your doctor right away. To find out more, you can check out Whats The Symptoms Of Kidney Failure.