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Symptoms of Kidney Problems

December 2019

Symptoms of kidney problems are rare, but when they do exist, early signs often include decreased urination and changes in appearance, itchy skin, exaggerated leg swelling and constant tiredness.

Not everyone presents symptoms, the best way to know if there is a kidney problem is to have regular urine and blood tests and, if necessary, an ultrasound or CT scan. These tests are especially important in cases of increased risk of kidney changes such as diabetes, the elderly and people with high blood pressure or a history of kidney failure in the family, for example.

If you think you may have a kidney problem, choose the symptoms you are experiencing to assess your risk:


If you have more than 2 of these symptoms, it is important to see a nephrologist or general practitioner for diagnostic tests and to identify if there really is a kidney problem that needs to be treated. 

Symptoms of Kidney Problems

Most common Kidney problems

The problems that most often affect your kidneys are:

  • Kidney stones: consists of the accumulation of small stones inside the kidney, which can make it difficult to pass urine to the bladder;
  • Kidney cysts: They are common with advancing age, but when they are very large they can cause kidney pain.
  • Polycystic kidney disease: leads to the emergence of various cysts in the kidney that may hinder its functioning;
  • Hydronephrosis: arises when urine cannot pass to the bladder accumulating inside the kidney;
  • Renal insufficiency: arises from progressive kidney damage that impedes its functioning;
  • Kidney Infections: These are caused by bacteria that reach the kidney through the urinary tract or blood, being more common in women and manifesting symptoms such as fever, vomiting and backache;
  • Acute kidney injury: manifests mainly in ICU patients, people with a history of kidney problems or the elderly, for example, whose kidneys stop working spontaneously for a short time, about 2 days, urgent treatment is required.

In addition, people with uncontrolled chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, may also develop chronic kidney disease that causes minor kidney damage over time and may lead to kidney failure.

Kidney cancer is also quite common, especially in men over 60 years, and can manifest with symptoms such as blood in the urine, frequent tiredness, weight loss without apparent cause, constant fever and presence of a lump. Side pain in the back of the back.

How to treat kidney problems

The treatment for kidney problems should be indicated according to the specific problem that is affecting the organ, but in milder cases, such as small kidney stones or cysts, symptoms can be alleviated by simple dietary changes such as consuming more water avoid salt intake and increase calcium intake, for example. 

In the most severe cases, such as kidney failure or chronic kidney disease, treatment should always be directed by a nephrologist, as it may be necessary to control the amount of water ingested, take specific medicines, perform dialysis and even have surgery to treat injuries in the kidney.
In cases of cancer, surgery is almost always required to remove the tumor or the entire kidney if it is a serious condition, and to use chemotherapy or radiation to eliminate the remaining cancer cells.

In addition, if there is another disease that causes the kidney problem, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is also important to treat it properly to prevent further kidney damage.

What tests should you do

Tests that can be used to identify the problem that is affecting the kidneys are:

  • Blood tests: to assess levels of substances that are normally eliminated by the kidney, such as creatinine and urea;
  • Urine Test: The presence of protein or blood in the urine are changes that may indicate kidney problems.
  • Ultrasound or tomography: can help identify changes in kidney's shape, allowing for observation of cysts and tumors, for example;
  • Biopsy: Usually used when cancer is suspected, but can be used to identify other problems.

These tests may be ordered by the nephrologist, so whenever a kidney problem is suspected, it is important to go to the doctor to have them checked and confirm if there are any changes.

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