Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and unable to filter toxins from your blood. Kidney disease can affect the quality of life and is life threatening. Damage to the kidneys can occur for many reasons, most commonly diabetes and high blood pressure. If the disease progresses, it can result in kidney failure, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Those who are unable to treat kidney failure may choose to consider hospice services to ensure their comfort as the disease worsens. If you or a loved one are at risk for kidney disease and kidney failure, familiarizing yourself with the symptoms can help you better plan for the care needed when facing this illness.
Common Symptoms Of Kidney Failure
The following individual symptoms can occur with any number of health concerns, but if you or a loved one are experiencing several of these at the same time, consult a doctor to determine whether kidney failure is the cause.
Changes in urination patterns are a major sign of kidney failure. This can include reduced urine when you use the restroom, as well as the need to urinate more often. Blood in the urine is also common, as damaged kidneys can allow blood to leak into the urine as they attempt to filter waste. Be aware of any other changes you notice, including bubbles in the urine, which can indicate the presence of protein and should prompt a visit to your doctor.
Swelling In The Legs, Feet & Ankles
Decreased kidney function can cause your body to retain more sodium, which in turn results in swollen legs, feet, and ankles. This can make it difficult to walk or rest comfortably and may also cause pain when you try to wear your normal shoes, severely limiting your ability to engage in daily activities. If swelling does not decrease over the course of a few days, it may be a sign of kidney failure.
Shortness Of Breath
Difficulty breathing can also be a sign of acute kidney failure, which can occur suddenly after a heart attack or other serious medical condition. This is caused by a buildup of fluid in the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath. If you or a loved one are having difficulty breathing, notify a doctor immediately, as fluid in the lungs can be a dangerous health risk and can lead to further complications.
Drowsiness & Nausea
The ongoing buildup of toxins in the blood caused by faulty kidneys can cause nausea and a lower appetite in addition to drowsiness. This, in turn, can make it difficult to concentrate. Kidney failure can also cause anemia, which also leads to weakness and fatigue. Many people with kidney failure find it difficult to sleep, further decreasing one’s energy levels and making day-to-day tasks at home and work more difficult to complete.
Delirium, which includes confusion and a sense of restlessness, are common symptoms of kidney failure that occur as the built up toxins in the body begins to affect the brain. During the early stages of kidney failure, mild delusion can sometimes be eased by ensuring the patient is comfortable and speaks in a calm, soothing voice. In the later stages, however, delusion can be seriously distressing and may require deep sedation to ensure a comfortable final few days.
Chest Pain & Pressure
Kidney failure is not typically a painful illness. However, chest pain and pressure can occur if the lining of the heart becomes inflamed. Certain pain medications, including morphine, have byproducts that can build up when the kidneys are not functioning well. So, it’s important to speak to a doctor before taking any kind of pain medication to ensure that your body will be able to filter them properly.
Seizures & Coma
Toxins built up in the body can cause a number of major health concerns, including sepsis and hemorrhages, and they lead to seizures or even comas. These symptoms are signs of either late-stage or serious kidney failure, and a doctor should be notified right away if you or a loved one experience either of these in conjunction with other symptoms of kidney disease or failure.
Seeking Hospice Care Services
Reach out to Harbor Light Hospice for more information about the symptoms of kidney failure or to discuss hospice care services. Through hospice care, people living with kidney failure during the last six months of their lives can receive access to constant assistance and pain management support. This allows them to live more comfortably in their own homes as their disease progresses. Harbor Light Hospice provides coordinated, customized care through teams of doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals. With its attention to detail and specially trained teams, Harbor Light provides effective and life-changing resources for families and loved ones experiencing kidney failure.