Kidney Disease Warnings

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Every year, more than 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with kidney failure. Over 40,000 of those people have diabetes, which led to their kidney disease. That’s why it’s crucial for anyone with diabetes to know the facts about kidney disease.

A recent study done by the National Kidney Foundation found that chronic kidney disease doubles the risk of heart attack, stroke, and early death. And, surprisingly, the study also showed that the risk was not just for older people. The researchers looked at more than 30,000 people over 18 with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic kidney disease. To rule older age out as a factor, men in the study were required to be less than 55 years old and women less than 65 years old. The researchers found that a startling 20% of the study participants had chronic kidney disease and that 5% of them had already had a premature heart attack or stroke. As one of the scientists put it, “We used to think that chronic kidney disease was just an issue of getting older. But when we took age out of the equation, we found that kidney disease can affect even young adults.”

People with diabetes should have their kidneys checked at least once a year for kidney disease. Measures that doctors use to determine kidney health include the microalbumin test, which looks for the presence of protein in the urine, and eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate), which assesses how well the kidneys are functioning.

It’s also important to know the signs and symptoms of kidney disease. As one kidney specialist explains, “With so many people already diagnosed with conditions that can lead to kidney disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, educating the community is more important than ever. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t recognize the warning signs until it’s too late.”

The signs and symptoms of kidney disease include the following:

  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Changes in urination, such as dark or bloody urine or more frequent urination
  • Swelling of the face, hands, or feet, or all three; puffiness around the eyes, especially in the morning
  • Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting
  • Poor appetite or the sensation that foods taste different
  • Muscle cramps, especially in the legs
  • Intense itching or dry skin
  • Shortness of breath

If you notice any of these symptoms, speak with your physician. One of the best weapons in the fight against kidney disease is early detection.

Originally Published November 10, 2010

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