First signs of kidney problems

Updated February 21, 2017

Kidney disease is a common occurrence in elderly people, many of whom experience a general breakdown of organ function. Kidney disease can be caused by infection, parasites, cancer, amyloidosis, inflammation, autoimmune disease, trauma, reaction to toxins or a congenital disorder. For the disease to be properly treated, it's important to recognise the early signs of kidney disease and see a doctor for treatment.

Water and Urination

One of the first signs of a kidney problem is increased thirst accompanied by increased urination. The kidneys serve as filters for the body, cleaning toxins out of the blood and sending them to the urinary tract; malfunctioning kidneys cause toxins to remain in the bloodstream. The body tries to counteract this by flooding itself with water to "wash out" the toxins. Increased water intake results in increased urination.

Blood in Urine

Blood in the urine means that the kidneys are malfunctioning. The kidneys lead directly to the urinary tract, so damage to the kidneys shows up first via the urine. The blood may be due to cancer, parasites, trauma, a rupture or simple degeneration of the kidneys. If you notice blood in your urine, seek treatment immediately.

Fatigue and Depression

As the kidneys stop doing their job, the body becomes flooded with toxins. This leads naturally to a lack of energy and stamina. The kidneys are also responsible for releasing erythropoietin, which signals the body to produce red blood cells. When the kidneys stop releasing erythropoietin and fewer red blood cells are created, it restricts the body's ability to transport oxygen from the lungs to the body, resulting in depression and energy decline.


People who experience kidney failure notice exaggerated swelling not only in the kidneys, but also in their extremities. Liquid that should pass through the kidneys in the filtration process accumulates instead and leads to enlarged and sore kidneys. The extra fluid also accumulates in hands, wrists, ankles, feet and legs.

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