The two kidneys in your body are each about the size of a fist. They’re located just below your rib cage, and each day they filter 120-150 quarts of blood. Your kidneys are imperative for keeping blood stable and allowing the body to function properly. They prevent buildup of wastes and extra fluid in the body, they keep electrolyte levels stable, and they make hormones that help regulate blood pressure, produce red blood cells and help bones stay strong.
If the kidneys become damaged, your health becomes threatened. It’s important to understand and recognize the symptoms of kidney damage in order to keep your body healthy and strong. The most common signs of kidney damage include:
1. Changes in Urination
When the kidneys are failing, changes in urination can be an early warning sign.
- You may have to get up in the middle of the night to urinate
- Your urine may be foamy or bubbly
- You may urinate more often or in greater amounts, with pale urine
- You may urinate less often or in smaller amounts, with dark-colored urine
- Your urine may contain blood
- You may feel pressure or have difficulty urinating
If your kidneys aren’t working properly, they won’t remove the extra fluid in your body, which can lead to swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, face or hands. Unexpected swelling could be an indicator of failing kidneys.
When the kidneys are healthy, they produce a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO. This hormone tells your body to make red blood cells that carry oxygen. Kidneys that are failing make less EPO, so there are fewer red blood cells carrying oxygen. Your muscles and brain become fatigued quickly and easily, leading to anemia.
4. Skin Rash
If they kidneys aren’t effectively removing waste from the bloodstream, the build-up can cause severe itching or a skin rash. Waste accumulates in the blood, causing skin to become dry and irritated. Creams or ointments may help the problem on the surface, but if your rash is linked to kidney damage, putting cream on your rash won’t fix the underlying issue.
5. Metallic Taste in the Mouth
When waste accumulates in the blood, it can cause bad breath and even make your food taste different. If you notice a loss of appetite or a change in your food preferences, it could be a sign of kidney damage. The waste build-up can also cause nausea and vomiting.
6. Shortness of Breath
Kidney damage can lead to shortness of breath in two ways. The extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs, and/or the shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells can leave your body starved for oxygen.
7. Dizziness and Trouble Concentrating
Anemia related to kidney damage means that the brain isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. This can lead to memory loss, dizziness and trouble with concentration.
Some people who are suffering from kidney damage may experience pain in the upper back or on the same side as the damaged kidney. Kidney infections and kidney stones can cause severe pain, often in spasms.
To keep your kidneys as healthy as possible, eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and other health-supporting properties. Watch the video below for some tips on kidney-friendly foods: