Kidneys, the vital organs located just below the rib cage on either side of the spine, do a lot to keep the body in check. Think of your kidney as a filter. It helps eliminate waste and toxins from blood that our bodies can’t process otherwise; it’s the removal of this waste that produces urine. They regulate blood pressure, create red blood cells (crucial for delivering oxygen to the body), and assist in keeping bones strong and healthy.
But what’s alarming is that an estimated 17.2% of India’s population has chronic kidney disease (CKD), with the disease progressing to Stage 3 and beyond in nearly 6% of people, according to data from SEEK (Screening and Early Evaluation of Kidney Disease), a US-India initiative to track CKD in India.
The good news: With your doctor’s help, you can detect the disease earlier and even prevent it altogether. Many symptoms of kidney disease are ignored because they don’t seem serious. Keep an eye out for these:
If your kidneys aren’t properly getting rid of excess fluid in your body, that often manifests as swelling in the hands and feet. (Shutterstock)
Your ankles and feet are swollen
Decreased kidney function can lead to sodium retention, causing swelling in your feet and ankles.
You’re more tired, have less energy or are having trouble concentrating
A severe decrease in kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood. This can cause people to feel tired, weak and can make it hard to concentrate.
You see blood in your urine
Healthy kidneys typically keep the blood cells in the body when filtering wastes from the blood to create urine, but when the kidney’s filters have been damaged, these blood cells can start to “leak” out into the urine.
You have dry and itchy skin
As the kidneys are no longer able to keep the right balance of minerals and nutrients in your blood.
You feel the need to urinate more often
When the kidneys filters are damaged, it can cause an increase in the urge to urinate, especially at night.
When the kidneys aren’t filtering properly, toxins stay in the blood rather than leaving the body through the urine. This can make it difficult to sleep.
Your urine is foamy
Excessive bubbles in the urine – especially those that require you to flush several times before they go away—indicate protein in the urine.
You’re experiencing persistent puffiness around your eyes
This puffiness around your eyes can be due to the fact that your kidneys are leaking a large amount of protein in the urine, rather than keeping it in the body.
You have a poor appetite
This is a very general symptom, but a buildup of toxins resulting from reduced kidney function can be one of the causes.
Your muscles are cramping
Electrolyte imbalances can result from impaired kidney function. For example, low calcium levels and poorly controlled phosphorus may contribute to muscle cramping.