Diagnosing and Preventing Kidney Disease

Diagnosing and Preventing Kidney Disease

 Kidney disease usually progresses silently, often destroying most of the kidney function before causing any symptoms. Therefore, people at risk of developing kidney disease should be evaluated regularly. These people include those with diabetes, high blood pressure or blood vessel diseases, and close relatives of people with hereditary kidney disease.

To diagnose kidney disease your doctor might test the urine and blood, take a scan of the kidneys, and test samples of kidney tissue. A routine urine test, called a urinalysis, checks for protein, sugar, blood, and ketones (created when the body breaks down fat). Your doctor will also check for red and white blood cells in the urine during a urinalysis. Depending on the suspected cause of the kidney problem, other tests may also be done.

Mild to moderate kidney disease often does not have any symptoms. However, in end-stage kidney disease when the toxins accumulate in a person’s blood, symptoms may include:

  • puffy eyes, hands, and feet (called edema)
  • high blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • thirst
  • a bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
  • weight loss
  • generalized, persistent itchy skin
  • muscle twitching or cramping
  • a yellowish-brown tint to the skin


Preventing Kidney Disease

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can speed up the natural course of any underlying kidney disease.
  • If you suffer from diabetes, make sure that your disease is under control. A growing number of kidney patients are people with diabetes.
  • Be very careful about taking non-prescription medications, particularly painkillers. It is wise to discuss all over-the-counter medications with a doctor or pharmacist before they are taken.
  • Certain other medications, toxins, pesticides and illegal drugs (such as heroin and cocaine) can also cause kidney damage. Your doctor can explain the problems associated with long-term use or abuse of these substances.