Kidney Failure Symptoms

Kidney failure symptoms will depend on the cause, severity, and the rate at which the disorder progresses. Acute or chronic kidney failure is a serious condition which can result in various secondary disorders or complications.

A problem leading to kidney failure may have affected the kidneys themselves, perhaps as a result of decreased blood supply, or may have resulted from an obstruction anywhere in the urinary tract.

A chronic failure of the kidneys may develop gradually over the course of months to years. An acute failure would be when function was drastically impaired within days to weeks. Acute failure may develop into chronic failure if function does not recover following treatment.

The most common cause of chronic kidney failure is diabetes mellitus. Both acute and chronic conditions may cause irreversible damage to the kidneys.

Kidney failure symptoms:

  • swelling of ankles, hands, feet, and/or hands
  • dark colored urine
  • decrease in amount of urine produced (sometimes none)
  • frequent urination
  • loss of concentration
  • fatigue, weakness
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of appetite
  • easy bruising
  • full body itchiness
  • dizziness
  • increased heart rate
  • muscle twitching, weakness, cramps
  • pins and needles in arms and legs

Diagnosis is typically through physical examination, and blood and urine testing to identify high levels of specific metabolites. A decrease in red blood cells may also be detectable (anemia) in the blood.

Primary treatment of kidney failure is typically directed at attempting to eliminate the cause of the kidney failure, if possible and if the cause is known. In acute failure, kidney function recovery is possible with managed care and support. Dialysis may be necessary until sufficient kidney function is restored.

In chronic failure cases, the disorder typically progresses even with support and treatment. Long term dialysis or kidney transplantation are advanced treatment options.

Prognosis is relatively poor for cases of advanced kidney failure and improvement of remaining quality of life should be the focus.