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What are the signs of failing kidneys?

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Quick Answer

The signs of kidney failure include fluid retention, decreased urine output, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea, notes Mayo Clinic. Kidney failure can also cause confusion, chest pain, drowsiness or seizures.

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Full Answer

The kidneys regulate the amount of fluid in the body, and they filter wastes from the blood, explains MedlinePlus. If the kidneys stop working properly, fluid and waste products accumulate, a condition known as kidney failure. Extra fluid in the bloodstream also increases blood pressure, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

People with kidney failure tend to have increased BUN and creatinine levels, notes the National Kidney Foundation. BUN, or blood urea nitrogen, is one of the waste products produced by protein metabolism. Creatinine is also a waste product, but it is produced by the breakdown of muscle fibers. Damaged kidneys do not adequately filtering these waste products from the blood.

Kidney specialists also use imaging tests to identify problems associated with kidney failure, explains Dr. Purushottama Sagireddy from Davita HealthCare Partners. X-rays help determine if the kidneys are enlarged, while angiography helps diagnose renal artery stenosis, a condition characterized by a blockage or narrowing of the artery that supplies the kidney with blood. Ultrasound helps detect tumors, blockages and swelling of the kidneys.

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