Early symptoms of chronic kidney disease

The early symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD) resemble those of numerous other conditions. This is no coincidence given the fact that many other diseases can damage the kidneys, especially diabetes (both type 1 and 2) and high blood pressure.

Chronic kidney disease symptoms include:

·         Loss of appetite.

·         General malaise.

·         Fatigue.

·         Weakness.

·         Headaches.

·         Itching.

·         Dry skin.

·         Nausea.

·         Unexplained loss of weight.

These may be the only sign that there is something wrong in the early stages of CKD. Further symptoms may take place once kidney function has already declined, such as:

·         Unusually dark or light skin.

·         Pain in the bones.

·         Drowsiness.

·         Difficulty concentrating or thinking.

·         Numb or swollen hands and feet.

·         Breath odor.

·         Easy bruising.

·         Bloody stools.

·         Excessive thirst.

·         Frequent hiccoughs.

·         Sexual function problems.

·         Amenorrhea.

·         Shortness of breath.

·         Sleep problems.

·         Vomiting.

In addition to the aforementioned diabetes and hypertension, other conditions that can contribute to the deterioration of kidney function are:

·         Systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, and other autoimmune disorders.

·         Polycystic kidney disease and other kidney birth defects.

·         Some toxic chemicals.

·         Kidney injuries.

·         Kidney stones and infection.

·         Inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units or of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures.

·         Issues with the arteries that feed the kidneys.

·         Pain and cancer medications and other drugs.

·         Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, caused by an enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers.

·         Backward flow of urine into the kidneys.

·         Other kidney condition.

Being a smoker, obese, of African-American, Native American or Asian-American descent, and older than 65 years of age are all factors that out a person at an increased risk of chronic kidney disease – and in turn, at risk of additional complications if not treated, for instance:

·         Anemia.

·         Stomach or intestine hemorrhage.

·         Pain in the bones, muscles, and joints.

·         Changes in blood sugar.

·         Leg and arm nerve damage.

·         Dementia.

·         Buildup of fluid around the lungs.

·         Heart and blood vessel complications

-        Congestive heart failure.

-        Coronary artery disease.

-        High blood pressure.

-        Pericarditis.

-        Stroke.

·         High phosphorus levels.

·         High potassium levels.

·         Hyperparathyroidism.

·         Higher risk of infections.

·         Liver damage.

·         Liver failure.

·         Malnutrition.

·         Miscarriage.

·         Infertility.

·         Seizures.

·         Swelling.

·         Bone weakening.

·         Increased risk of fractures.

·         Decreased sex drive.

·         Impotence.

·         Central nervous system damage.

·         Irreversible kidney damage.

Diagnosing chronic kidney disease

Tests to check kidney function

  • Creatinine clearance.
  • Creatinine levels.
  • Blood urea nitrogen.

Tests for when kidney disease worsens

  • Albumin.
  • Calcium.
  • Cholesterol
  • Complete blood count.
  • Electrolytes.
  • Magnesium.
  • Phosphorous.
  • Potassium.
  • Sodium.

Tests to look for the cause and type of kidney disease

  • CT scan of the abdomen.
  • MRI of the abdomen.
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen.
  • Kidney biopsy.
  • Kidney scan.
  • Kidney ultrasound.

Tests that kidney disease changes the results of

  • Erythropoietin.
  • PTH.
  • Bone density test.
  • Vitamin D level.


Treatment for CKD revolves around several different aspects.

Chronic kidney disease treatment


·         Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers to control blood pressure.

·         Statins to lower cholesterol.

·         Supplements of the hormone erythropoietin to treat anemia.

·         Diuretics to relieve swelling.

·         Calcium and vitamin D to protect the bones.

Lifestyle changes

·         Not smoking.

·         Fat and cholesterol-low meals.

·         Regular exercise.

·         Keeping blood sugar under control.

·         Avoiding too much salt of potassium.

Special diet

·         Limiting fluid intake.

·         Less protein.

·         Reducing salt, potassium, phosphorous, and other electrolytes.

·         Enough calories to avoid losing weight.

Updated vaccinations

  • Hepatitis A vaccine.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Flu vaccine.
  • Pneumonia vaccine (PPV).


  • Phosphate binders to help prevent high phosphorous levels.
  • Iron (in diet, iron pills, intravenously).


There is no cure for CKD, and severe cases result in kidney failure – necessitating a dialysis machine to take over the now inoperative kidneys to remove waste from the blood. This is why prevention is so important. Preventive measures include:

·         Drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all.

·         Following over-the-counter medication instructions.

·         Keeping as healthy weight.

·         Not smoking.

·         Managing medical conditions with the help of a physician.

Related: Early symptoms of kidney stones