Symptoms & Diagnosis

Many people may be in the early stages of kidney disease and not have any indication something is wrong with their kidneys. There are certain symptoms; however, that could be a sign you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). When chronic kidney disease is detected in the early stages, there are steps you can take to help slow the progression of kidney disease to help you delay or prevent dialysis.

Below are lists of symptoms often related to chronic kidney disease. The CKD symptoms are grouped in categories based on the typical cause.

CKD Symptoms from Build-up of Wastes in the Body

Symptoms of kidney failure that can be caused by a build-up of wastes in the body include:

  • A metallic taste in the mouth or ammonia breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Protein aversion (no longer wanting to eat meat)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Itchiness (pruritis)
  • CKD Symptoms from Build-up of Fluid in the Body
  • Symptoms of kidney failure that can be caused by a build-up of fluid in the body include:
  • Swelling in the face, feet or hands
  • Shortness of breath (from fluid in the lungs)

CKD Symptoms from Damage to the Kidneys

Symptoms of kidney failure that can be caused by damage to the kidneys include:

  • Making more or less urine than usual
  • Urine that is foamy or bubbly (may be seen when protein is in the urine)
  • Blood in the urine (typically only seen through a microscope)

CKD Symptoms from Anemia

Symptoms of kidney failure that can be caused by anemia (a shortage of red blood cells) include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mental confusion
  • Desire to chew ice, clay or laundry starch (this is called pica)

Often, early kidney problems don’t have many symptoms — but if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the ones listed here, you will want to be checked by a doctor. Write down any of the symptoms you may have and bring that information with you to your doctor’s appointment.

Discovering your kidneys are okay will ease your mind, but even if you learn you have kidney problems, knowing about it sooner may allow you to take steps to slow the progress of kidney disease.


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