Kidney Disease Symptoms / Signs

Many people develop Kidney or Renal Disease (also called Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD) long before they begin to feel sick or notice anything different about their health. Many of the early symptoms are very mild and may be mistaken for something else. You may also hear people refer to Symptoms as Signs or Indications of a disease.

Kidney disease symptoms include:

Changes in Urination

When you begin to feel Kidney Disease symptoms, you may notice that you need to use the restroom more often (frequent urination). You might also need to urinate less often rather than more, or be unable to finish going when you need to (incomplete emptying of bladder). Cloudy, foamy, or bloody urine may also be signs of Kidney Disease.

Swelling (Edema)

Kidney Disease symptoms may also include swelling in your face, hands, legs, ankles, or feet. This is called Edema and is caused by your kidneys’ inability to remove all of the extra fluids from your blood. You may also experience shortness of breath if fluids build up in your lungs.

Aches and Pains

Kidney Disease can cause pain in your lower back, sides, and legs. You may also experience a tightness or pain in your chest.

Itchy or Discolored Skin

Itchy and discolored skin is another sign of Kidney Damage and CKD. When your kidneys are leaving too many wastes in your bloodstream, the extra toxins can cause rashes and severely itchy skin.

Nausea and Vomiting

The buildup of excess wastes in your blood can also cause you to feel sick to your stomach (nausea), which may lead to vomiting. These same wastes can leave a metallic taste in your mouth and cause your breath to smell like ammonia or urine.


Your Kidney Disease may cause Anemia, which means that your blood contains insufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin. This can make you feel more tired (fatigued) than usual, because the cells in your body are not receiving enough oxygen. This shortage of oxygen can also cause dizziness or light-headedness, shortness of breath, trouble staying warm, and problems with memory and concentration.

Kidney Failure Symptoms

If your kidney disease has reached its final stage, known as End-Stage Kidney Disease, End-Stage Renal Disease, or Kidney Failure, you are likely to feel any or all of the symptoms listed above with more frequency and to a greater degree.

You may also experience additional kidney failure symptoms, including:

  • The need to urinate at night (nocturia)
  • Numbness in your hands, legs, and feet
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps and twitching of muscles
  • Gray or yellow-brown skin
  • More severe edema (swelling and puffiness)
  • More trouble breathing
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Bruising and bleeding
  • Headaches and weakness
  • Unusual thirst

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