10 Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is the loss of kidney function. This usually occurs gradually, but it can become life-threatening if it goes untreated. Your kidneys remove waste and excess fluids from your blood, and kidney disease can make them less effective. As fluids and waste build up in your blood, you may experience a wide variety of uncomfortable symptoms. There are many potential underlying causes for kidney disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and other kidney conditions. Smoking, being obese, aging, and genetics are all risk factors as well.

Kidney disease has five stages, each with different symptoms and treatment protocol. The early stages of the disease often cause no noticeable signs or symptoms, so there may be significant damage to your kidneys before you and your doctor realize that something is wrong. It may seem like the disease has come on suddenly, but your kidneys have probably been struggling for years.

1. Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the classic symptoms of chronic kidney disease. It’s characterized by constant tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest. Even if you get eight hours of deep, restful sleep every night, you may still feel exhausted. You may also experience brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and memory issues as a result of the tiredness. When your kidneys are healthy, they produce erythropoietin, or EPO, a hormone that encourages your body’s production of red blood cells. Your red blood cells carry oxygen to your muscles, brain, and organs, which gives them enough energy to function properly.

When you have kidney disease, your kidneys don’t produce enough EPO. Therefore, your blood has fewer red blood cells, and your body doesn’t receive enough oxygen. A lack of red blood cells is known as anemia, a condition that commonly occurs as a result of kidney disease. The exhaustion can make it harder for your body to fight the disease, so it can lead to other symptoms or complications. The severity of your fatigue may vary depending on what stage of kidney disease you’re in. The later stages can cause extreme exhaustion that may make it difficult just to get out of bed. Fortunately, anemia is treatable with iron supplements or injections of a synthetic type of EPO.