If you suspect kidney disease, or have kidney disease, this may be the most important article you have read on the topic of kidney failure symptoms. I say this because unlike many articles on the internet regarding kidney failure symptoms, this article will help you assess the state of your kidney health via an online self-check list; rather than just listing a bunch of random symptoms, which will give you no guidance or direction.
But I before I go on any further, and this may seem counter-productive, I must state that any method of non-laboratory diagnosis has its flaws. So whatever ever method you may be using, whether it be my self-check list below, medical questionnaire assessments, iridology, TCM analysis, computerised electro scanners, or psychics, nothing will accurately diagnose your condition like proper blood work. If you suspect you have kidney disease, or are experiencing any type of symptoms that you are unsure about, please see your doctor immediately – no matter what these methods tell you.
…It is important to first note that many kidney failure symptoms could be easily confused with any number of illnesses, and this is because many of the initial kidney disease symptoms are superficial and wide-ranging. Therefore listing a bunch of symptoms in no order is pointless, you may have some symptoms, but how can you be certain the symptoms you are experiencing are caused by kidney disease?
It is this vagueness that I hope to eradicate (to the best of my ability) by providing a self-check list and a grading system, and, I hope by informing the wider public of the symptoms of this disease I can help many people avert its ‘silent’ progression.
The Kidney Failure Symptoms Self-Check List
How to use the kidney symptoms checklist:
- Scan the list of renal failure symptoms below, and circle the corresponding number (to the right) of each symptom you have experienced in the past 14 days.
- Once completed, add up all the numbers you have circled.
- Cross check the total number against the ‘Kidney Failure Symptoms Grading Index’ to find out your likelihood of kidney disease.
This article is a continuation of my previous article entitled The Ultimate A to Z Guide to Chronic Renal Failure (Part 1), in this article I continue where I left off and detail letters N through to Z. Enjoy…
N is for Natural Treatments
Ahhh my favourite topic! I LOVE natural medicines; there is something about working with the power of nature that really gets me really excited! (I’m a little weird I know)
There is a full gamut of natural remedies and techniques, such as herbal medicine, nutrition, diet, homeopathics, flower essences, and a whole lot more, that have for many of my clients, improved kidney function, reversed kidney disease, and safe-guarded from further chronic renal failure.
I have been using natural medicines now for over 10 years, and through that time I have learnt a thing or two, the best discovery was that by using certain natural medicines I was able to affect change in the health of my client’s kidneys and lives!
Side Note: This all started when my wife’s nanna was diagnosed kidney disease four years ago, and we had to find a solution. She was at stage three, bordering on stage 4, and well, thankfully today she does not have chronic renal failure any longer.
The important thing to note is this. If you have been recently diagnosed (or had chronic renal failure for many years for that matter) please know that there is an alternative out there that your doctor wouldn’t have discussed. You don’t have to put up with “There is nothing we can do… When your kidneys get bad enough, your options are dialysis and transplantation…”
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~Author Unknown
If you would like to find out more of the exact program I use to help thousands of people world-wide improve their kidney health, please check out my site here.
Meditating is any technique which enables us to relax our body and our mind, and to free our mind of unnecessary thoughts. Eastern civilizations have been practicing this for thousands of years; just “knowing” that it improves the health of the mind, body and soul. They often practiced to achieve certain outcomes e.g. rejuvenation of the mind and nervous system, to let go of disease-causing thought patterns, muscular relaxation and self-development.
Chronic renal failure responds dramatically to the practice of meditation, and for this reason it is recommended to become part of your daily or weekly routine.
Today studies now prove what the ancients already knew, showing the following physiological changes:
- Slower heart rate
- Slower breathing rate
- Lowered cortisol levels in the blood
- Increased alpha brain waves, a brain wave associated with relaxation
- Among many other physiological changes
P is for Protein & Phosphorus
Protein: Another important nutrient one must monitor its consumption of, is Protein. Protein is a misunderstood nutrient when it comes to chronic renal failure, as in some situation one needs to reduce protein, and in others it needs to be increased. What to do? Well, first up you need to speak to your naturopath, nutritionist or doctor for the best requirements for your condition. They will be able to tell you exactly your protein needs based on your stage of chronic renal failure.
For a complete breakdown of the levels of protein you need to be consuming for your stage of kidney disease please see my in-depth article: The Definitive Guide on Protein and Kidney Disease
Phosphorus: The kidneys regulate the mineral phosphorus in the blood stream, and for that reason when one has chronic renal failure this ability can become impaired, causing phosphorus levels to rise. Phosphorus at “healthy” levels helps build strong teeth and bones (among many other benefits), but when levels become high, phosphorus can the opposite effect, by leaching out calcium from the teeth and bones. This “leeched” calcium also makes its way to the blood stream causing abnormal calcium deposits, and too much phosphorus can cause itchy skin, bone pain, heart issues, or even death.
The important thing to note is that not all sufferers of chronic renal failure will develop high phosphate levels, and therefore you need to always confirm your levels with a blood test.
To know the recommended phosphorus daily allowance for stage of kidney disease, please see this article.
Q is for Qi Gong
Qigong is another practice that I recommend for those suffering with chronic renal failure, for it is rejuvenating qualities for the body and mind; which is oh so necessary for individuals with chronic renal failure.
What is Qigong? Qigong is the practice of aligning the breath, body, and mind as one, and harnessing and working with the vital force (Chi) that exists within and all around us. Through this, a deeper connection to yourself and life is established and greater awareness and peace is achieved. Although Qigong is not as well known as Tai Chi, Qigong and Tai Chi share a similar philosophy, technique, and origin. In fact many people mistake Qigong for Tai Chi when practiced.
In my blog post 10 Ways To Improve Kidney Function Without Leaving Home I talk more in depth about the benefits of Qigong in chronic renal failure, and provide a video showing how enhance your kidney energy through Qigong.
In today’s article I want to talk to you about chronic renal failure; what it is, what causes it, the best blood tests, and a whole lot more. However, today I want to do something a little different, I want to break it down in to an A to Z guide so you can quickly reference the major key topics – so in that way you have a valuable resource to refer back to in the future.
Chronic renal failure is an interesting condition, it affects 2 out of every 1,000 people in the United States; 11% of all deaths in Australia are due to, or associated with, renal failure; 20 to 30 percent of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease; 1 in 9 adults have a minimum of one renal failure sign or symptom; it is one the quickest growing diseases in the world… yet it is still largely not a condition that many understand, or have been appropriately informed about.
But before I go into any specifics with this condition, I wanted to quickly define exactly what I am referring to when I say “Chronic Renal Failure”. For the purposes of this article, chronic renal failure means any dis-ease of the kidneys that causes diminishment of kidney function, as shown by an estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate test (eGFR). In contrast, the term “End Stage Renal Failure” only describes kidneys that have a kidney function of less than 15%.
The Ultimate A-Z Guide To Chronic Renal Failure
A is for Alkaline
Alkalinity is an important concept to understand and implement when dealing with chronic kidney failure. Alkalinity is a must for your body’s tissues to survive and thrive. In fact, your body will do anything it can to keep your blood pH in the narrow window of 7.35 to 7.45pH – your body will literally break down its bones for the calcium contained within them to keep your body alkaline!
Normally however, keeping the body acid/alkaline balance within your body is the job of the kidneys. When your kidneys begin to diminish in function so too does their ability to excrete the acid and maintain the alkalinity in your blood. Therefore eating an alkaline diet is the best way to protect and improve the health of your kidneys.
To add further strain on already strained kidneys, many of today’s lifestyle choices are acid forming as well as changes to our environment:
- Diet: e.g. alcohol, sugar, coffee, red meat, grains
- Chemicals: e.g. industrial chemicals, cleaning products, paint, makeup and cosmetics
- Heavy metals
- Excess exercise
- Sedentary lifestyle
For more information on alkalinity and the alkaline diet, please see my article here.
- Monitors the progression of your condition
- Tracks that your treatments are working
- Informs you of any abnormal developments in your health
- Allows you to tailor your diet to suit your needs e.g. potassium, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin D, and calcium levels
- By knowing the current state of your body, and understanding that state, you’re better equipped to make positive changes. It is shown people feel more in control and are more likely to make the changes when they understand their condition and all facets related to their condition.
- It will show you your current percentage of kidney function
The best blood tests to assess your renal failure are:
- Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)
- 24hr creatinine clearance
- Kidney biopsy
Please see my article here for a detailed description of each test in chronic renal failure: Top 7 Kidney Tests To Measure Your Kidney Function
Other important tests include: Potassium levels, Sodium levels, Phosphate levels, Vitamin D levels, Calcium levels, Parathyroid hormone levels, and Hemoglobin levels.
I get asked a lot about creatinine; what is it, what causes high creatinine levels, and how to lower it naturally? It’s understandable, creatinine levels are looked upon as the best determining factor of the health of your kidneys, and is routinely tested for and discussed by your doctor.
But I must warn you, lowering creatinine SHOULD NOT be your ultimate goal, it is only secondary to the bigger picture… (keep reading to find out why).
So What is Creatinine?
• Creatinine is a waste product of the major energy metabolite creatine.
• Normal creatinine serum blood levels are:
- 0.6 to 1.2 mg/dl in males (53 to 106 umol/L)
- 0.5 to 1.1 mg/dl in females (44 to 97 umol/L)
• Creatinine is usually found in higher quantities (within the blood) in young adults, and lesser quantities in the elderly.
• Those with one kidney will have higher than “normal” levels of creatinine circulating in their blood (roughly 1.8 mg/dl or 160 umol/L).
• Creatinine can be tested for via a blood sample or via a urine sample. On its own a blood sample is more accurate than a urine sample, though combining them together to form what is called a creatinine clearance test (both blood and urine) is the most accurate test.
• High creatinine levels occur due to any number of diseases that cause the kidneys to shut down, including dehydration, shock, congestive heart failure, and bladder outlet obstruction.
• There are no definitive symptoms that are caused by high creatinine levels, though the following could be possibly linked: fatigued, shortness of breath, feeling dehydrated, and confusion.
Interesting stuff? Great! I hope you won’t be disappointed then when I say you let’s move on to the next section because you have learnt all these is (worth) to know about creatinine. I would like to tell you more about creatinine, but really that is all you need to know. That’s the crux of it.
What I would really like to discuss next is the substance that creatinine is a by-product of… creatine.
If you are a gym junkie, or know someone that is, you probably have come across creatine before. Creatine is touted by many body builders as the best natural substance for increasing energy reserves – especially for the explosive sports (because of its role in ATP production).
Creatine is naturally produced by the body and the majority of it is stored within the muscles (up to 95%). The body does this through the synthesis of the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine via the liver, and because the body can make its own, creatine itself is not essential in the diet. The dietary source of creatine however is any animal meat, such as beef, chicken, and fish. Providing up to 1 gram a day of creatine for the typical “meat-eater”.
As previously mentioned, creatine has a key role to play in the production of ATP. This occurs in the most important energy pathway of the body, known as the Kreb’s Cycle, or the Citric Acid Cycle. The average human body uses over 2000mg of creatinine a day to fuel this important biochemical pathway, for the purposes of producing the most vital energy source of the body.
… OK, so now that we understand a little more about creatine, and that creatine is a necessary molecule, we can now delve a little deeper into creatinine levels and how to lower them.
The Importance of Creatinine Levels
After many years study, and lengthy clinical trials, creatinine was found to be the best indicator of kidney function. Why? Well, there are a few reasons for this, and they are as follows:
Kidney disease symptoms… what are they, when do they occur, and why do they occur…?
For many, kidney disease symptoms remain confusing. This however is not surprising…
• Kidney disease has little awareness amongst the general public, and therefore is largely misunderstood.
• There are numerous conditions that fall under the ‘kidney disease’ umbrella term, each with their own set of symptoms.
• Kidney disease can be “acute” or “chronic”.
• ‘Kidney disease’ is one of many terms that label the same condition. Others terms include: chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, renal failure, renal disease, end-stage-kidney-disease… etc.
• Kidney disease symptoms rarely show themselves early on in the disease process; hence kidney disease is often called “The Silent Killer”.
• And surprisingly when kidney disease does enter its final stages, often patients are told that every symptom that they are experiencing is caused by the kidneys.
What Is The Purpose Of This Article?
The purpose of this article is to clarify exactly what the signs and symptoms are for kidney disease. And when I say the signs and symptoms of kidney disease, I mean the signs and symptoms of a kidney that has already begun to diminish in function. Therefore a urinary tract infection that has spread to the kidneys, but has not lowered the kidney function, is not applicable here (for example).
Kidney Disease Symptoms
Below I have listed the most common signs and symptoms resulting from under functioning kidneys. I have also tried, where I believe more information is needed, to explain the reasoning as to why these signs and symptoms occur. This will help you understand your condition better, and by doing so, enable you to heal yourself better.
Note: The following signs and symptoms can occur at any stage of kidney disease, however most individuals begin to experience them at stage 3 or 4*.
*Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is categorised in five distinct stages (based on your level of kidney function) to better help care for kidney disease sufferers. Kidney function is measured by what’s called an Estimated Gromulrular Filatration Rate (eGFR) test (for more information on this, please go here). Here is a brief analysis of each of the five stages:
• Stage 1 with normal or high GFR (eGFR > 90 ml/min)
• Stage 2 Mild CKD (eGFR = 60-89 ml/min)
• Stage 3 Moderate CKD (eGFR = 30-59 ml/min)
• Stage 4 Severe CKD (eGFR = 15-29 ml/min)
• Stage 5 End Stage CKD (eGFR <15 ml/min)
Symptom 1: Changes In Urination
Changes in urine are common, which makes a lot of sense considering that the kidneys main function is to regulate the body’s chemistry via the urine. These changes include:
- increased night time urination (aka: nocturia)
- foamy or bubbly urination (caused by excess protein in the urine)
- increased/decreased urine output
- dark yellow/brown urine
- blood in urine (aka: hematuria)
- increased urge, or a feeling of pressure on the bladder
Cause: The cause of this symptom is obvious. The kidneys that produce the urine are damaged, and therefore impact the way urine is processed. Out of all the kidney disease symptoms, this is one is probably the most common that I see in clinical practice.
Symptom 2: Fatigue
Feelings of constant fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness, and lethargy.
Cause: There are numerous causes for this symptom:
- Anemia: the kidneys produce the hormone EPO which is required to produce red blood cells. When the kidneys decrease in function, so too does the production of EPO.
- Decreased oxygenation: as mentioned above, kidney disease can cause red blood cell production to decrease, when this occurs you have fewer red blood cells to transport life giving oxygenation around the body. On top of this fluid can build up around the lungs causing inhalation difficulty, and therefore drawing in deep, long, oxygenating breaths is a rare occurrence.
- Adrenal fatigue: The Kidneys And Adrenals Are ONE – Although technically they are not the same organ/gland they are structurally connected, the adrenals produce a hormone call aldosterone which increases the kidneys reabsorption of sodium and water (and elimination of potassium), and from an energetic stand point, are the same.
The adrenal glands literally sit on top of the kidney like a hat – Please refer to following article for a diagram – and because of this, both impact each other. The adrenal glands are your body’s anti-stress/energy centre, by releasing such hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrinecortisol they increase the body’s energy. If the kidneys are not functioning well, then so aren’t the adrenals. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also refers to these two organs as one. In their philosophy their in no distinction between the two, they are simply known as the ‘kidney’ meridian. The kidney meridian is regarded as the body’s most important reservoir of essential energy. And in the TCM philosophy, the “kidneys” house the body’s will power, control short-term memory, and provide the capacity for drive and strength. A person with deficient “kidneys” will be deficient in potency and stamina.