Renal Failure Signs & Symptoms

Written by doug desjardins
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Renal failure occurs when the kidneys are impaired by disease or the inability of the body to deliver enough blood for them to function properly. There are three stages of renal failure -- acute, chronic and end stage -- and all three have unique signs and symptoms.

The Primary Symptom

One symptom associated with all three stages of renal failure is a greatly reduced output of urine. This indicates that the kidneys are not functioning properly and allowing fluid and waste products to accumulate in the body, which leads to secondary symptoms.

Acute Renal Failure Symptoms

The main symptoms of acute renal failure are greatly reduced urine output, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and lower back pain. Though considered the most treatable form of renal failure, it usually occurs suddenly and can be fatal if it's not treated within 48 hours.

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is signalled by frequent but reduced output of urine, loss of appetite, weakness, leg cramps, persistent hiccups and itchy skin that bruises easily.

End Stage Renal Failure

Symptoms of end-stage renal failure include greatly reduced urine output, swelling of the face, limbs and abdomen, severe lethargy and breath that smells like ammonia. It typically requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to remedy.

Check for the Signs

While the secondary symptoms of renal failure can often be associated with minor problems, the key sign to look for is a sharp decline in urine production.

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