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What Are the Most Common Chronic Kidney Disease Symptoms?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) often silently progresses, but common symptoms include fatigue, swollen ankles, and frequent urination, especially at night. High blood pressure and a change in urine's color or foaminess can also signal CKD. Early detection is crucial for managing this condition. How can recognizing these signs early improve your health outcomes? Continue reading to uncover the importance of early intervention.
A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg

Though the disease may not cause any recognizable signs at first, there are numerous unpleasant chronic kidney disease symptoms that will typically develop as it worsens. Many people notice issues or changes in their urination, and they may tend to have fluid retention, or edema, which causes swelling in tissues. Fatigue is common, though patients also often have trouble sleeping. Some people lose their appetites, while others may tend to feel nauseated. Other issues can include itchy or bruised skin, headaches, and trouble thinking clearly.

One of the chronic kidney disease symptoms that affects many patients is a change in how they urinate. Some people may feel the need to urinate more frequently, particularly at night, while others may have to go less often than usual. The urine may be lighter or darker than normal, and sometimes there is blood in it. There may also be feelings of discomfort or pressure while urinating.

A person with foot and ankle swelling, which are early symptoms of kidney disease.
A person with foot and ankle swelling, which are early symptoms of kidney disease.

Another of the common symptoms of chronic kidney disease is edema. As the kidneys become less able to remove excess fluid from the body, the fluid starts to build up in the body's tissues. This can lead to swelling in many areas, including the hands, face, and legs or feet. Some people may also feel short of breath if fluid starts to accumulate in their lungs.

Chronic kidney disease symptoms may include itchiness.
Chronic kidney disease symptoms may include itchiness.

Many patients complain of fatigue as one of their chronic kidney disease symptoms. They will often feel exhausted, with no energy for everyday tasks. They may also feel very sleepy, though in some patients the problem is exacerbated because they find that their sleep is disturbed and they have a hard time getting enough rest.

Chronic kidney disease can also have a negative impact on a person's eating. It is not uncommon for patients to lose their appetite, which may lead to weight loss. Some notice that foods taste different, or they have an ongoing bad taste in their mouth. Many people tend to feel nauseated or even vomit as well.

Kidney disease often affects the body's normal urination.
Kidney disease often affects the body's normal urination.

There are several other chronic kidney disease symptoms that patients may also have. Headaches are often a problem for those with the disease. Many get anemia, which can make them feel dizzy or have trouble concentrating as less oxygen gets to their brains; it can also make people feel chronically cold or look pale. These patients also often feel itchy and may get a rash on their skin. Some may have pain in their side or lower back as well.

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Discussion Comments


@lighth0se33: Many people with CKD suffer from swollen hands, legs and feet, it is often caused by too much sodium (usually salt) in the diet, and can respond within as little as 24 hours if you make the appropriate adjustments to your diet.

As you already have CKD you should not be too alarmed as it in no way indicates that the CKD is progressing. If you have any concerns ask your doctor to do your egfr and salt/mineral levels again.


I have a friend who is in her sixties and has chronic kidney disease. She has to be on dialysis three times a week. She has tried to get on a transplant list, but she isn’t qualified, because she smokes, has heart problems, is diabetic, and is overweight. Doctors won’t give a kidney to someone they feel is at risk of dying soon from other factors.

She has tried to lose weight, but she cannot exercise because of her heart issues, so this makes it very hard to shed any pounds. She’s already on a strict diet to protect her kidneys and manage her diabetes.

In spite of her poor physical condition, she has a good sense of humor and enjoys people. Everyone who knows her admires her vibrant spirit. This is what keeps her alive.


@shell4life - I share your polycystic kidney disease symptoms. However, I am currently participating in a clinical trial for a drug to stop the growth of new cysts and shrink the ones already present.

The drug makes some symptoms lessen, like the pain from cysts rupturing and the edema. Unfortunately, it greatly increases the need to urinate often.

They warned me before I started taking it that I would end up very thirsty and having to pee all the time. They told me that other people on the drug were having to carry water bottles with them everywhere and having to get up several times a night to pee.

I thought maybe I wouldn’t experience this side effect, because I peed often anyway. I was wrong. The drug is designed to flush out your kidneys, so naturally, you crave water and have to get rid of the excess.


I have a chronic kidney disease, and it is very uncomfortable. My ankles and calves swell up, I urinate once an hour, and I can’t sleep very well.

The sleep disturbances are caused by my need to urinate often. Once I get up, it takes me awhile to fall back to sleep. Once I doze off, I need to urinate again, and this wakes me up.

Though the need to pee all the time is annoying, the swelling really worries me. It means that my kidney function is declining, and it’s only a matter of time before I need a transplant.


I have polycystic kidney disease, and almost everyone who knows they have it experiences pain from time to time. I found out I had it after an episode of intense pain that lasted several days. I had to have a CT scan, and it revealed multiple cysts on my kidneys.

For years, I have been chronically fatigued. I told my doctor this, but she tested me for anemia and thyroid malfunction, but both came back negative. Now I know that the kidney disease is probably the cause.

Some days, I can barely muster the energy to get out of bed. Other days are not as bad, but I always find it hard to make it through the day at work. I don’t have the energy to lift things and walk around as much as I once did.

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    • A person with foot and ankle swelling, which are early symptoms of kidney disease.
      By: Dusan Kostic
      A person with foot and ankle swelling, which are early symptoms of kidney disease.
    • Chronic kidney disease symptoms may include itchiness.
      By: nebari
      Chronic kidney disease symptoms may include itchiness.
    • Kidney disease often affects the body's normal urination.
      By: freshidea
      Kidney disease often affects the body's normal urination.