The kidneys are essential to our body’s functioning. They filter the blood, rid the body of waste and toxins, they produce hormones that play an important role in regulating other bodily functions such as blood pressure, mineral concentration and the amount of liquid in our bodies. The most common kidney problem is kidney failure. Learn how to recognise red flags that may require medical attention.
Renal function gradually declines as the nephrons, the structures which make up the kidneys, gradually stop being able to filter the blood or secrete certain hormones, which leads imbalances in the body. We distinguish chronic renal failure from acute renal failure. The latter happens suddenly and can be caused by dehydration or serious infection. Chronic renal failure is caused by other illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, leading to lesions in the blood vessels, including those in the kidneys.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, consult your doctor without delay.
1) Constant fatigue
One of the main symptoms of kidney failure is constant fatigue. The kidneys being the main source of the hormone involved in the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow, kidney failure leads to lowered levels of red blood cells and an accumulation of waste in the blood. Anaemia can set in, and is manifested by intense fatigue.
2) Urinary problems
Urinary difficulties can be signs of various illnesses, including renal failure. Someone affected by renal failure often feels the need to urinate, especially at night. They can also notice changes in the colour of their urine (changing from light to darker) and sometimes even blood in their urine.
A reduction in the volume of urine and pain while urinating are also signs that you shouldn’t ignore.
3) Lower back pain
If you have pain in your lower back or in your sides, which interrupts your daily life, consult your doctor, as it could be a sign of kidney failure. In fact, the kidneys are situated in part of the lower back.
If you notice that your feet, your ankles or your face are swollen, it could be to do with kidney failure. If your kidneys aren’t functioning as they should, they will be less able to filter the blood, and allow liquids to accumulate in the body, which causes swelling.