Chronic kidney disease - Symptoms 

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease 

Most people with CKD have no symptoms because the body can tolerate even a large reduction in kidney function. 

In other words, we are born with a lot more kidney function than is necessary for survival. Kidney function is often sufficient if only one kidney is working.

A change in kidney function is usually discovered through a routine blood or urine test. If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, your kidney function will be monitored with regular blood tests, and treatment aims to keep any symptoms to a minimum.

If the kidneys continue to lose function and there is progression towards kidney failure (established renal failure or ERF), this will usually be tracked by blood tests and monitoring. If kidney failure does occur, the symptoms may include:

  • weight loss and poor appetite
  • swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention) 
  • shortness of breath 
  • blood or protein in your urine (protein in your urine is not something you will notice as it can only be detected during a urine test) 
  • an increased need to urinate, particularly at night 
  • itchy skin 
  • muscle cramps
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • nausea 
  • erectile dysfunction in men (an inability to get or maintain an erection)

These are general symptoms and can be caused by many less serious conditions. Many of the symptoms above can be avoided if treatment begins at an early stage, before any symptoms appear.

If you are worried by any of the symptoms above, arrange to see your GP.

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Page last reviewed: 21/08/2012

Next review due: 21/08/2014

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