Detecting Kidney Disease
By Belle & Juliana Sun
Our body takes what it needs from the food we eat and leaves the waste to be cleared by our kidneys. Without the sophisticatedworkings of these “trash collectors,” wastes would build up in the blood and cause damage to the body. Taking care of our kidneys starts with becoming aware of the various symptoms associated with kidney diseases. Early diagnosis and seeking treatment can slow the damage.
The good-news stories in medicine are early detection, early intervention.
— Thomas R. Insel
Awareness of Common Symptoms
When the kidneys are not functioning well, they can let protein escape through their filters into the urine. Having protein in the urine, a condition called proteinuria, is an early sign of kidney disease. A buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood causes one to feel fatigued and sluggish.
Food tastes different when there is a buildup of wastes in the blood due to poor kidney function, causing one to have poor appetite. Other accompanying symptoms may be nausea, vomiting and anorexia.
Healthy kidneys secrete a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) that signals the bone marrow to make more oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less EPO and therefore fewer red blood cells, causing anemia. Most people with kidney disease will develop anemia, making them look pale and feel dizzy and weak.
Change in Urination
Urine production is a function of the kidneys and thus any major change in urination habits indicates an issue which must be addressed. Passing less urine than usual, urinating more often, experiencing nocturia, changes in color or odor, pain while urinating, or foam or blood in the urine are symptoms indicating that the kidneys are not in healthy condition.
Kidney distress could manifest as lower-back pain since the kidneys are located toward the back, underneath the ribcage. Without treatment, the pain will persist.
Failing kidneys are unable to remove extra fluid and sodium, which then build up in the body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, hands, and around the eyes.
Premature graying or thinning of hair
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, hair health is directly related to kidney health. Premature graying of hair or excessive hair loss is an indicator of weak or damaged kidneys.
When the kidneys do not function optimally, a higher level of waste products gets retained in the body, which can prevent egg production and affect menstruation. Menstrual disorders such as pain, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, or even amenorrhoea may occur when the kidneys are in suboptimal condition.
Many people overlook the wellbeing of their kidneys, despite the vital importance of these hardworking organs to overall health. Experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms consistently warrants a thorough medical checkup. If kidney disease is caught early, medications and lifestyle changes can slow and even stop or reverse its progress.