We often take our organs for granted and though our minds process information, we ignore some obvious signs of disease until it is too late. The kidneys are such an organ that tries its best to work properly and decides to tell you only at the last minute that it cannot manage anymore. During the time of its degeneration, it will send subtle signs hard to mistake for common ailments. Here are 8 signs your kidneys aren’t working properly.

1 Insomnia


Toxins unable to exit through the urine build up in the body and the blood. This leads to trouble sleeping in turn leading to further kidney decline. Those with Chronic Kidney Disease also suffer from sleep apnea and this requires a doctor’s checkup immediately.

2 Headaches, fatigue and general weakness

Headaches, fatigue and general weakness

Healthy kidney function improves vitamin D conversion in the body for strong bones and EPO a hormone called Erythroprotein that contributes to red blood cell production. Poor kidney function leads to less EPO and decreased RBC production leading to muscular and cognitive fatigue. In CKD, anemia may also be a complication especially in those with 20-50% of kidney function causing fatigue, lethargy and exhaustion.

3 Dry and itchy skin

Dry and itchy skin

This is one of the signs your kidneys aren’t working properly because unhealthy kidneys are not able to remove waste materials from the blood creating an imbalance of minerals and nutrients in the body. This can also lead to bone and further kidney disease. Being hydrated is one of the ways to manage the problem.

4 Bad breath and metallic taste

Bad breath and metallic taste

Waste buildup in the blood can alter food taste leaving a taste of metal in your mouth. Bad breath is also a sign of kidney disease because of the buildup of toxins that contaminate the blood stream. You may also lose appetite and acquire distaste for meat. Not eating could also lead to weight loss. Allergies can also leave a metallic taste in the mouth and if it doesn’t g o away after treatment, consult the doctor.

5 Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath

In poor kidney function, extra fluid in the body starts moving to the lungs. This in combination with anemia also reduces oxygen in the body resulting in breath shortness. Conditions like asthma, heart failure and lung cancer also cause breath shortness. Consult a doctor when you notice that you are always out of breath after a little physical effort.

6 Swelling in ankles, feet and hands

Swelling in ankles, feet and hands

This is one of the telltale signs your kidneys aren’t working properly because of the buildup of fluid in the body. When kidneys don’t remove fluid, it results in buildup of sodium that causes the feet and hand swelling. Swelling in the feet can also be a sign of heart or liver problems or even leg vein issues. Suitable medication and reduction of salt intake can stop the edema (swelling) bit if it doesn’t, a proper diagnosis is required.

7 Back pain

Back pain

Pain that is located right below the rib cage and feels as if it is originating from deep inside is often a sign of kidney disease. It can also be felt in the groin or hip region. Leg and back pain can also be caused by kidney cysts because of polycystic kidney disease. In more severe cases, back pain can also be accompanied by nausea, fever and frequent urination.

Normal back pain is more localized without fever but if your back pain is frequent and doesn’t respond to medication, then consult your doctor.

8 Puffy eyes

Puffy eyes

One of the early signs of kidney disease is puffy eyes because of the inability to process protein which is increased in the urine. This causes puffiness in the eyes because the kidneys are emptying large amounts of protein into your urine instead of processing it for distribution in the body. Puffiness is also a result of lack of sleep but of that happens in spite of getting sleep see a doctor.

9 High blood pressure

High blood pressure

When blood vessels get damaged, the nephrons in the kidney that filter waste from the blood do not get adequate oxygen and nutrients. This cycle leads to high blood pressure because the circulatory system and kidneys depend on each other. High blood pressure is one of the main causes of kidney failure.

10 Changes in urination

Changes in urination

Whenever you notice changes in the urine such as color, odor and appearance, then consult a doctor immediately. The kidneys eliminate waste through the urine and this is why the urine will show signs your kidneys aren’t working properly. Common urine problems indicating kidney disease are increased need to urinate at night. (4 -10 times a day is normal), blood in the urine and foamy urine indicating the presence of excess protein.