Your kidneys are one of the smallest organs in your body, but they have one of the biggest jobs – they filter out all of the toxins you encounter every day.
Your kidneys must filter 20-150 quarts of blood just to produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine, which is composed of wastes and extra fluids.
They are small bean-shaped organs located under the rib cage. Kidneys are eliminating waste and excessive fluids from the body, regulate the electrolyte levels, regulate blood pressure, produce more red blood cells, keep the bones strong and healthy, and much more.
If they are endangered and their function is impeded, your entire health is at risk.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 adults in the US -more than 20 million people- have some level of chronic kidney disease. And these numbers are only growing as more and more people develop chronic symptoms associated with kidney problems. Therefore, it is of high importance to learn to distinguish the body signs that indicate kidney damage and failure:
1. Changes in your urine
This is one of the earliest signs your kidneys are in trouble. So If you notice any of the following changes, speak to your doctor:
- Trouble urinating
- Pale color of urine, frequent need for urination, and in large amounts
- Foamy urine
- Dark urine, reduced need for urination, or reduced amount of urine
- Frequent night urges for urination
- Pressure during urination
2. Excessive swelling
Because your kidneys are responsible for filtering any fluid in your body, if this fluid starts to back up, you will notice swelling, typically in your hands and feet as these small organs struggle to eliminate any excess fluid. In addition, protein in your urine is a clear sign your kidneys are in trouble and the tiny filters are not working properly.
3. Shortness of breath
Kidney damage may also lead to shortness of breath, as the body is lacking oxygen, due to the lowered number of red blood cells which transport oxygen all throughout the body. Their number is reduced due to the accumulated toxins in the lungs.
4. Skin rashes
Any time your body is overwhelmed with toxins, it looks for any way to get rid of these poisons and waste products. One such way is through the pores in your skin. This can result in rashes, dry, irritated skin or even open sores.
While skin creams and ointments can help ease the symptoms, they do not help with your kidneys, so it is important to address the underlying issue.
5. Metallic taste in the mouth
Due to the waste deposits in the blood, a person may have bad breath or a changed taste in the mouth. In the case of severe kidney damage, the person may experience a great change in the taste of some foods, as well as poor appetite.
6. Poor concentration and dizziness
The deficiency of oxygen in the brain may indicate severe anemia, or kidney failure, which can lead to poor concentration and focus, light-headedness, dizziness, and memory issues.
7. Lower back pain
Lower back pain is often linked with kidney damage, failure or infections since these organs sit in your lower back area. This pain can be a consequence of kidney stones or even a urinary tract infection.
In healthy people, the kidneys produce EPO (erythropoietin), which is a hormone that produces red blood cells, which supply the required oxygen for the body. If the number of red blood cells is reduced, the person experiences fatigue, brain, and muscles damage. This is a common sign of severe anemia as well.
9. Nausea and vomiting
As toxins and wastes start to build up in the blood, it can cause severe nausea and vomiting. This can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection, so make sure you speak to your doctor right away, especially if you are experiencing any pain in your lower back or abdomen too.
When your kidneys are not functioning properly, it can result in a lack of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. When this happens, you can often develop anemia, a symptom of which includes constantly feeling cold.
How to keep your kidneys healthy?
To avoid symptoms of kidney problems there are several things you should do:
- Keep your blood sugar in check, particularly if you have diabetes.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Eat healthy meals. If you are already displaying symptoms of kidney problems, avoid a diet high in protein, fat, sodium, and potassium.
- Have yearly tests to ensure your kidneys are functioning properly.
- Avoid painkillers unless necessary as they can damage your kidneys. -Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen and naproxen are especially bad.
- Contact your doctor immediately if you think you have a bladder or kidney infection.
- Don’t smoke.