Would You Know If You Had Kidney Disease?

You may have no symptoms, but here’s how to know if you should be tested for kidney disease.

An estimated 26 million Americans have kidney disease but most don’t even know they have it. That’s because there may be no obvious symptoms of kidney disease in its early stages.

Many symptoms of kidney disease may not be noticed until the disease has reached a more advanced stage or the signs may be attributed to other health conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about being tested for the disease:

  • You need to urinate more often, especially at night
  • You see blood in your urine or your urine is foamy
  • You have swelling in your feet, ankles, hands or face
  • You’re tired, weak or have trouble concentrating
  • You have difficulty sleeping
  • You feel very thirsty
  • You don’t have much appetite
  • You have dry, itchy skin
  • You have muscle cramps

The only way to know for sure if you have kidney disease is to be tested by a medical professional. Two simple tests are needed to check for the disease:

  • A blood test checks your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which indicates how well your kidneys are filtering
  • A urine test checks for albumin, a protein that can pass into your urine if your kidneys are damaged

If you’re at high risk for kidney disease, talk to your doctor about whether you need to have these two tests done every year. The biggest risk factors for the disease are high blood pressure and diabetes. Other risk factors include a family history of kidney failure, heart disease, kidney stones, obesity, smoking and being age 60 or older. As many as 1 in 3 adults are at risk of developing kidney disease and the sooner you know you have the disease, the sooner you can get treatment to help delay or prevent kidney failure.

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Date Last Reviewed: January 7, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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