Symptoms & Risk Factors

Certain people have a higher risk of developing kidney disease than others. It’s important to recognize if you’re in one of these groups, or if you are showing symptoms of the disease, so you can get the treatment you need right away.

Common risk factors

Kidney disease is often called the ‘silent killer’ as symptoms of the disease don’t tend to appear until the disease is advanced. However, some people are known to be at a higher risk than others.

You are at greater risk if:

1. You are a member of certain ethnic groups, including:

  • African Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Hispanics
  • Asian Americans

2. You have a family history of the disease.

  • If kidney disease runs in your family, or people in your family suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure (the two main causes of kidney diseases), you are at greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

3. You make unhealthy lifestyle choices.

  • A diet high in sodium
  • Smoking
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Not enough exercise

4. You have other health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity

5. You’re over the age of 65.

  • If you’re 65 or older you have a higher risk.

Whatever your risk of developing kidney disease, there are certain things you can do to protect these vital organs. From improving your diet to increasing your level of daily exercise, the journey to good kidney health starts now.

>     Learn how you can protect your kidneys


Symptoms of chronic kidney disease

It can be difficult to know whether or not you have chronic kidney disease because its symptoms often don’t show up until the disease is close to kidney failure — and when symptoms do arise, they’re usually not very specific.

Common symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Change in urine color
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty sleeping at night
  • Itchy and dry skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Decreased appetite, especially for meat
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in the morning
  • Always feeling cold
  • Loss of feeling in feet and hands.

Because kidney disease symptoms are so vague, and could be attributed to many other causes, it can be hard to identify if you have symptoms of the disease or not. If you are concerned that you may have chronic kidney disease, talk with your doctor. Simple blood and urine tests can test for kidney disease and get you on a path to better health.

>     Get tested! See the simple tests that check kidney function

Six major warning signs of kidney disease

1. A change in the frequency or pattern of urination.
Talk to your doctor if you notice you’re urinating far less or far more than you used to.

2. Burning during urination.
A burning sensation when urinating, especially if it happens regularly, can be a sign of kidney disease.

3. Blood in your urine, coffee-colored or foamy urine.
A change in the color of your urine, foamy urine, or blood in your urine can indicate kidney disease.

4. Swelling of the feet, face or stomach.
Swelling, especially swelling that doesn’t seem to go away, can be a sign of kidney disease.

5. Pain in the middle of your back.
Mid back pain, for no apparent reason, can signal a problem with the kidneys.

6. High blood pressure.
Hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, is the second leading cause of kidney disease. Work with your doctor to control your blood pressure so it doesn’t lead to kidney disease.