Signs and symptoms of kidney disease

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Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease develop over time if kidney damage progresses slowly. Signs and symptoms of kidney disease may include:

Nausea
Vomiting
Loss of appetite
Fatigue and weakness
Sleep problems
Changes in how much you urinate
Decreased mental sharpness
Muscle twitches and cramps
Swelling of feet and ankles
Persistent itching

Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific, meaning they can also be caused by other illnesses. Because your kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost function, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of kidney disease.

If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of kidney disease, your doctor is likely to monitor your blood pressure and kidney function with urine and blood tests during regular office visits. Ask your doctor whether these tests are necessary for you.

Causes

Illustration showing normal kidney compared with diseased kidney
Normal kidney vs. diseased kidney
Polycystic kidney compared with normal kidney
Polycystic kidney
Chronic kidney disease occurs when a disease or condition impairs kidney function, causing kidney damage to worsen over several months or years.

Diseases and conditions that cause chronic kidney disease include:

Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Glomerulonephritis (gloe-mer-u-low-nuh-FRY-tis), an inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli)
Interstitial nephritis (in-tur-STISH-ul nuh-FRY-tis), an inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures
Polycystic kidney disease
Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers
Vesicoureteral (ves-ih-koe-yoo-REE-tur-ul) reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
Recurrent kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis (pie-uh-low-nuh-FRY-tis)

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