10 Little-Known Signs Of Kidney Failure That Everyone Should Know

In the age of the Internet, it's easy to feel like you can diagnose yourself based on a set of loosely connected symptoms that certain sites suggest could be problematic. At the risk of further playing into your constant health paranoia, I do think it's worth pointing out that there are signs of kidney failure that not many people know about — and if you're experiencing them regularly, you need to start tracking them, as well as consider seeing a doctor IRL. Of course, while lists like this can set you on a path to finding answers for the questions you have about your body, they can't provide a solution — only a medical professional can — so keep that in mind as you read!

Dr. Jennifer Caudle, family physician and associate professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, tells Bustle that symptoms of kidney failure — as well as the failure of other organs — can manifest gradually. "It's not usually a static process," she says. "It's often something that evolves, whether it be slowly or quickly, and it's different for different people."

It's also important to remember that these symptoms could be a sign of different levels of kidney (or renal) problems. If you're getting nervous because this list sounds all too familiar, it's possible that your kidneys aren't quite failing, but do require some medical attention. In any case, you should see a doctor quickly so you can get to the bottom of it. To prevent panic, make it a priority to see your doctor on a regular basis, anyway, so that she can help diagnose any issues before they progress to a point where you would even notice these symptoms.

Changes To Your Pee Pattern

If you find yourself running to the restroom more often than usual or are wondering why you're having to pee just once or twice a day, it's worth considering that there might be a problem with your kidneys. Dr. Caudle says that any significant change to your typical pee routine is a potential symptom of a poorly functioning renal system.

Foam In Your Urine

See something that resembles bubbles in the toilet bowl? Check in with your doctor to make sure that everything is running smoothly with your kidneys. Foamy urine may not be a good sign.

Extreme Swelling

Dr. Caudle confirms that most of us can experience some level of swelling after a long day on our feet or in the most intense heat of summer, but if you're experiencing a more extreme form of swelling, there could be something else going on. You may notice full-body swelling or feel swollen in parts of your body that are unusual for you, such as your stomach, face, or under-eye area.


Persistent nausea can be a sign of several health problems, and kidney failure is one of them. If you constantly feel like you need to vomit — or actually do vomit — see a medical professional. If nothing else, you deserve a solution to that relentless queasiness.

Intense Exhaustion

"A big one for people whose kidneys are failing is that they often feel tired and just worn out," Dr. Caudle says. "The energy is just sapped. They're exhausted. They're fatigued." If you can't seem to shake your full-body sleepiness, there might be reason for worry.

Feeling Short Of Breath

Worse than feeling a little winded after a tough workout, an intense shortness of breath could be indicative of a larger internal problem. People experiencing kidney failure may even find that this feeling of not being able to catch their breath interferes with their ability to get around as normal, per. Dr. Caudle.

Reduced Appetite

Since nausea is one potential symptom of kidney failure, it makes sense that reduced appetite could also be part of the package. Pay special attention to any loss of appetite that feels even bigger than that stomachache.

Changes To Sleep Pattern

The intense exhaustion that comes with kidney failure may make people feel like they need to sleep more, but when they actually find themselves sleeping less, there couldI be lingering health issues at play. Dr. Caudle notes that people in kidney failure may "sleep poorly," which can mean different things for different people.

Unexplained Weight Loss

The combination of persistent nausea and a reduced appetite are certainly not a recipe for weight gain, and people with failing kidneys will often experience significant, unexplained weight loss. This weight loss comes as a result of those other symptoms, but also because of what's happening in the body.

Muscle Cramps

Regular muscle cramps are a symptom of kidney issues. If you're feeling unusual muscle pain, don't be so quick to ignore it!