✓ Evidence Based

10 Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Kidneys are our body’s filters. When they don’t function well, toxins will build up causing major issues.

Sadly, more than 37 million Americans suffer from kidney disease, and only 10% of the people living with chronic kidney disease know they have it.

This is partly because some of the earliest signs of kidney disease can be attributed to other conditions. The most severe symptoms appear in the relatively advanced stages.

Kidney Failure Signs & Symptoms

Let’s talk about 10 signs that your kidneys might be failing or need help.

1. Fatigue

Kidneys filter all the toxins in our bodies. So, when they’re not functioning properly, a lot of impurities can form in our blood. This can make us feel tired, weak, dizzy, and unable to focus.

Moreover, healthy kidneys produce erythropoietin, which is a hormone that contributes to the creation of red blood cells in the body. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our bodies. The fewer red blood cells we have, the more tired and fragile we will feel. This is where anemia kicks in.

2. Feeling cold even if it’s warm in the room

Kidney disease can lead to anemia and anemia will make you get chills even if all the other people in the room are feeling warm.

This is a sign of kidney disease that can very easily go unnoticed, or simply be attributed to anemia, without checking the underlying cause.

So, make sure you get your kidneys checked as well if you always get the chills in a warm room.

3. Shortness of breath

Being short of breath is usually attributed to heart or lung diseases. However, breathlessness can also be caused by kidney disease.

The extra fluids and toxins in our body that our kidneys cannot filter can build up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath. Moreover, the low number of red blood cells and anemia can also starve your body of oxygen.


In some severe cases, lying down can make you feel like drowning. This is when you have to go see a doctor immediately.

4. Dry and itchy skin

Besides filtering the toxins in our body and helping create red blood cells, our kidneys also help maintain the proper amount of bone minerals. Therefore, dry and itchy skin can be a sign of failing kidneys that can no longer keep the mineral balance in your body.

Moreover, the accumulation of toxins in our bloodstream can cause skin reactions of all sorts. So, don’t ignore these signs.

5. Swollen ankles, feet, or hands

Kidneys not working properly will cause a lot of fluid to build up in the body. Moreover, when your kidneys are falling, a lot of sodium will accumulate.

All these will lead to swollen legs, ankles, feet, or hands. However, the swelling of the extremities can also be a sign of liver, heart, or chronic vein diseases. This is why sometimes, people ignore swollen feet or hands.

6. Feeling “puffy” around your eyes

When your damaged kidneys let protein leak into the urine, you can also experience puffiness around your eyes and face.

So, not only your feet, ankles, or hands will be swollen, but also your face. These symptoms can also signal other disorders as well. So, it’s better to go to a doctor to see what is the problem.

7. Bad breath and metal taste

People suffering from kidney disease may complain that food tastes like metal. They might also have a foul breath at all times. Moreover, people with this symptom might also have a low appetite.

All these are caused by an accumulation of toxins in your blood, called uremia. Bad breath can be followed by nausea and vomiting. Even thinking about food can make you sick.

Don’t wait too long. At this stage, you need to see a doctor!

8. Urination issues

Kidneys help us with our urine production. Frequent urination followed by pain or burning sensations is a problem.

Moreover, if you notice a decrease in the amount of urine, that can also signal a kidney problem.

If you get up in the middle of the night to go pee often, that can also be a symptom of kidney failure. So, go see a doctor immediately.

9. Foamy or bloody urine

Blood in urine, also known as hematuria, can be a sign of kidney infections, tumors or kidney stones, or kidney failure.

When the kidneys are not functioning properly, blood can get in the urine. This will cause the urine to turn brown, red, or purple. Women might ignore this symptom and associate it with a late period. But it’s not.

Foamy urine is not good either. Discolored urine with bubbles or white foam can indicate a vast amount of protein in the urine. This foam looks much like the foam you see when making scrambling eggs, as it is actually albumin, the same protein found in eggs.

10. Trouble Sleeping

When kidneys are failing, they are not filtering properly, so the toxins stay in your bloodstream, wreaking all sorts of chaos in the body. This will make it difficult to sleep and get proper rest. It can also cause sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop and start breathing during sleep. This can cause you to snore badly and, in some cases, it can even be obstructive.

Sleep apnea is very common in people suffering from chronic kidney disease.

Keep a check on all these signs and symptoms and also follow the ways to prevent Kidney failure.