Q&A: What Are The Signs Of Kidney Failure?

man blood transfusion

Q: What are the most common signs/symptoms of kidney failure?  – S. B. 

A: Kidneys help filter waste products from the blood. They are also involved in regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance and red blood cell production in the body.

Symptoms of kidney failure are due to the build-up of waste products in the body that may cause weakness, shortness of breath, lethargy and confusion.

Inability to remove potassium from the bloodstream may lead to abnormal heart rhythms, and sudden death. Initially kidney failure may cause no symptoms.

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Early signs of kidney failure can be found in your nails:
Linear Depressions
One type of nail change is called Beau’s lines — transverse ridges that go across the nail, affecting all of your nails. Beau’s lines are a result of an acute kidney disease that interferes with the growth of the nail.

Ridged Nails
Kidney disease causes koilonychia — ridged nails that are somewhat spoon-shaped and concave. This change is associated with iron-deficiency anemia, which commonly occurs in people with kidney disease.

White Streaks and Spots
White streaks and spots on your fingernails occur with a condition called leukonychia. This condition is associated with chronic renal disease.

Half-and-Half Nails
Half-and-half nails — also known as Lindsay’s nails — also occur with kidney disease. The bottom portion of the nail is white, while the top of your nail is brown. Swelling of the nail bed causes the bottom of the nail to become white.

According to MayoClinic, acute kidney failure may occur when:

  • You have a condition that slows blood flow to your kidneys
  • You experience direct damage to your kidneys
  • Your kidneys’ urine drainage tubes (ureters) become blocked and wastes can’t leave your body through your urine

Slow Blood Flow To Kidneys

Diseases and conditions that may slow blood flow to the kidneys and lead to kidney failure include:

  • Diabetes
  • Blood or fluid loss
  • Hypertension/Blood pressure medications
  • Heart attack