Kidney Health: 10 Symptoms You Can’t Ignore If You Care


Transcript of the video follows


I have the clear feeling that we often take it for granted… kidney health, I’m talking about kidney health, yet according to the 2019 “Global Burden of Disease” kidney failure is one of the 10 most relevant risk factors in terms of mortality and disability, along with the various smoke, glycemia, high pressure, overweight etc.

And if we then consider that some of these other risk factors, I think mostly of diabetes and high blood pressure, are closely related to the risk of developing kidney failurewhich is why I thought it important to tell you about this topic.

What is Kidney Failure? Whenever you hear of “failure” referring to some organ, you want to indicate its loss of ability to function properly:

  • Kidney failure is a condition in which one or both kidneys do not function properly and can no longer perform their function effectively.

But the same can be said, for example, for theheart failurein reference to the heart, therespiratory failurereferring to the lungs and theliver failure for the liver.

But let’s go back to the kidneys… because if it is true that we think of them above all in reference to the ability to eliminate waste substances through the urine, in reality they also play a leading role in guaranteeing a correct balance of liquids: if you drink too much water, they take care of eliminating the excess, if you drink too little they take care of saving it, if you have a hemorrhage and you lose blood they will regulate the urine production in order to minimize the loss of liquids and so on. And at the same time they are responsible for deciding which and how many mineral salts to eliminate: sodium, potassium, calcium, … it is very important that their concentration in the blood is always kept within a very narrow range so that you are healthy and your other organs can work properly.

And if I still hadn’t convinced you, I could go on, talking about their role in maintaining the right blood pH, but also in the production of very important hormones, such as renin and erythropoietin.

And what about the vitamin D? The kidneys convert it into its active form, which is why a kidney disorder can expose the patient to a deficiency.

That’s why it can be important to know the possible signs and symptoms that suggest some kidney problems, but I would like to clarify my goal first: I don’t want to induce you to do checkups nor scare you, what I would like is to raise awareness of possible symptoms.

OK, I admit it, I try to draw your attention just like this, to the symptoms, but because in reality I would like to take you to listen especially to the last part of the video, when we will see together the good habits that will protect your kidneys from infections, insufficiency kidney and tumor.

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Symptoms of kidney disease

If infections and kidney stones these are conditions that manifest themselves in an evident way right away, and if you have ever suffered from them I am sure that you still tremble at the memory of renal colic, as often happens I would like to direct your attention to the symptoms of conditions capable of having a more insidious, because as often happens, the body works to compensate for any difficulties as long as it succeeds, and then goes towards what seems like a sudden and unexpected collapse.

As the American National Kidney Foundation writes, the only certain way to discover kidney disease is through blood and urine tests, and these are particularly important especially in the case of specific risk factors:

  • high pressure
  • diabetes
  • family history of kidney problems
  • obesity.

However, the same association identifies 10 signals that you could too hastily belittle:

  1. Tiredness persistent and unexplained, lack of energy and difficulty concentrating. We all suffer from it from time to time, mostly stressfor the lack of sleep, for professional reasons and for much more, but we often ignore that a serious decrease in kidney function, and the consequent accumulation of toxins and waste substances in the blood, can make people feel tired, weak and find it difficult to focus their attention. However, these disorders can be made worse by another complication of kidney disease,anemiadue to the reduction of the hormone production of the kidney.
  2. Difficulty sleepingbecause when the kidneys malfunction, the toxins remain in the blood instead of being eliminated in the urine, and this alters other mechanisms which affect the quality of sleep.
  3. Dry skin and itchwhich can emerge as a result of the inability to maintain adequate control over the amount of minerals in the circulation and the accumulation of urea.
  4. The need to urinate more often, a disorder that tends to emerge above all at night, with frequent awakenings. And turning above all to the little men, the fault is therefore not always theirs prostatedo not be afraid to report any worsening to your doctor, especially in the presence of the risk factors seen above.
  5. Blood in urinewe report this for completeness, but it is certainly one of those signs that are hardly overlooked.
  6. More subtle may instead be the foam in the urinethe excessive presence of which may suggest the presence of protein in urineproteins that normally shouldn’t be there because they are too precious to be thrown away with the pee.
  7. Persistent swelling around the eyeswhich can certainly be due to the excesses of the night before if you gave it your all thinking you were still 20 years old, but above all if persistent they can be a collateral sign of protein loss in the urine, which alters the delicate balance of liquids in the rest of the body.
  8. And the same happens to ankles and feet, which due to gravity are the site of greatest accumulation of fluids retained by the body. Reduced kidney function can lead to retention of sodiumcausing swollen feet and ankles. I would like to remind you of the importance of not underestimating this disorder, because if it is true that it can be the expression of some vein disorder after a day spent on your feet, it can also be favored by heart and liver disease, so never be afraid to report it to the doctor.
  9. And let’s stay in the leg area, because always due to the imbalances of mineral salts (electrolytes) it is very common to develop painful crampsperhaps nocturnal, but not only.
  10. Reduction of appetite, a generic symptom, not very specific, but a consequence of the progressive accumulation of toxins: if your body is no longer able to dispose of them, reducing your appetite is one way it has to reduce their production. In other words, in extreme cases, extreme remedies.

As you can see, all the symptoms, taken alone, certainly have more probable explanations, but if you happen to count more than one, it can certainly be worth talking to your doctor without waiting too long.

We protect our kidneys

We dedicate hours to the morning and evening skin care routine to take care of our skin, with the gym membership we think about the health of the heart and lungs, and if we are really good at the table we find the right compromise between satisfaction and prevention thinking about the liver and blood vessels blood. And no one ever thinks about the kidneys… but the good news is that if you really do all the things we just said, that is, apart from skin care, you’re already taking care of them very well too, because the kidneys also benefit from:

  • Regular physical activity
  • Body weight controlbut as usual, if the ideal weight it’s always the optimum to strive for, if you’re overweight losing even a fraction of the excess weight can already make a difference.
  • Balanced, healthy, varied dietwith particular attention not to exaggerate with salt, because diets rich in sodium increase blood pressure, which irreversibly damages the kidneys over time.
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce, or better still abstain, from alcohol consumption
  • Keeping yourself adequately hydrated, which doesn’t mean overdoing yourself with water, but properly drinking the classic liter and a half or two a day, more if you were to sweat.
  • Beware of anti-inflammatories… tablet for the heachachetablet for the backachetablet for i menstrual crampspill because in the evening after work it takes away that annoying feeling of broken bones, pill for those two scarce lines of temperaturetablet for the sore throat and I could go on. I’m not telling you to suffer all these pains passively, but when you decide to take a drug, always remember that these are compromises: reduction of pain against the risk of unwanted effects, and among those related to anti-inflammatories there is also a additional load on the kidneys. It is obviously not, at least almost never, the single tablet, more often the abuse over time is the real problem, but as we said at the beginning our body typically suffers in silence and therefore the fact that you get headaches without apparent repercussions does not mean that your kidneys were happy with those 600 mg of anti-inflammatory repeated after two hours.

Want the final treat? Frequent consumption of cola-based drinks appears linked to an increased risk of long-term kidney disease; if this isn’t too surprising considering the sugar-obesity-high blood pressure-diabetes link, it is decidedly more surprising that the risk seems to persist even with the 0 calorie (sweetened) version. Because? It is still not very clear, but the cause seems to be the excess of phosphorus contained, in the form of phosphoric acid used to acidify the drink, which promotes the formation of kidney stones, in turn linked to the risk of more severe and permanent injuries. I’ll be honest with you, there’s still no overwhelming evidence of this link, but the consumption of sweet or sweetened drinks has so many contraindications that I really don’t feel any hesitation in inviting you once again to reduce their consumption as much as possible. Today we have simply found one more possible reason to do so.

And speaking of diet, there is still one topic to touch on: proteins and kidney health, but this deserves a little in-depth analysis on its own, which I will publish on Thursday.

Sources and bibliography

  • 10 Signs You May Have Kidney Disease
  • Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Italy profile. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2021. Available from (Accessed 2023-01-02)

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Kidney Health: 10 Symptoms You Can’t Ignore If You Care

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