You probably assume your kidneys are functioning properly, but there’s a good chance you wouldn’t know if something were wrong. Despite being a leading cause of death in the U.S., most people who have chronic kidney disease are undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s largely because the symptoms of this condition are not always noticeable. That’s why it’s important to know all the signs, including one that could be hiding in plain sight on your face. Read on to learn which subtle symptom means you should get your kidneys checked.
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If you notice that your eyes are puffy, have your kidneys checked.
Puffy eyes could be an early sign of kidney disease, says Clara Lawson, MD, a medical doctor working with USA Hemp. According to Lawson, the kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste material from our bodies, and when they are damaged, their ability to perform this task suffers.
“When kidneys are unable to function well, their ability to sustain the filtration process reduces, due to which, protein starts leaking through the urine instead of storing it in the body,” she explains. “The loss of protein from the body results in the storage of fluids and minerals such as calcium and phosphate around the eyes, which then causes puffiness around the eyes.”
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Puffy eyes from kidney problems come with certain characteristics.
Puffy eyes can also be a sign of other less concerning issues, such as stress, lack of sleep, or allergies. That’s why it’s important to know what characteristics come with puffy eyes brought on by kidney disease. According to Lawson, your eyes will look swollen, dry, and irritated if they’re pointing to a problem with your kidneys. Yuna Rapoport, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist with Manhattan Eye in New York City, says noticing that your eyes are particularly swollen in the morning is often a telltale sign that something is amiss with your kidneys.
You’re also likely to notice other symptoms if you have kidney disease.
While often one of the earliest signs of kidney disease, swollen eyes are unlikely to be the only symptom you experience, according to Rapoport. She says you might notice swelling in other places, such as your hands and feet. Other non-swelling symptoms include fatigue, reduced appetite, early morning nausea, a change in the color of your urine or foamy urine, dry or itchy skin, cramped muscles, and pain in the back and lower abdomen. Both Lawson and Rapoport say you should talk to your doctor about kidney disease if you notice any of these symptoms alongside puffy eyes.
“Your kidneys play one of the most important roles in sustaining your life,” Lawson says. “It is highly recommended to consult a doctor and get your kidneys checked if you have been observing puffy eyes and other symptoms lately to diagnose the kidney problem in its initial phase.”
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Kidney disease can cause serious long-term consequences.
According to Lawson, some kidney diseases are treatable, but an early diagnosis is the only thing that will reduce complications. “A kidney disease at its initial stage is treatable, [but] if any kidney disease reaches its advanced stage, it can become a life-threatening situation for you,” she warns.
The Mayo Clinic says that chronic kidney disease “can affect almost every part of your body,” resulting in serious long-term consequences. This includes heart disease, pregnancy complications, decreased immune response, and anemia. You may also develop irreversible damage to your kidneys once the disease advances far enough without treatment, requiring you to undergo either dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.
“If your kidneys are not working properly, all the waste materials will start accumulating in your blood while making you greatly sick. The long-term consequences associated with this are high blood pressure, weaker bones, shortness of breath, low blood count, nerve damage, and heart problems,” Lawson says. “If you have observed early signs of kidney disease, you should get its treatment without any delay.”
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