Kidney and urinary tract:   function, disorders and diseases

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Signs and symptoms

Kidney disease often proceeds silently over many years, with no signs or symptoms the patient can recognise or with signs that are too general for the patient to suspect kidney trouble. For that reason, routine blood and urine tests are especially important: they detect blood or protein in the urine and abnormal levels of chemicals in the blood, such as creatinine and urea, are early signs of kidney disorder and failure. The following problems may, however, be warning signs of kidney disease and should not be ignored. Prompt medical attention is required when any of these conditions are present.

  • Swelling or puffiness, particularly around the eyes or in the face, wrists, abdomen, thighs or ankles
  • Urine that is foamy, bloody or coffee-coloured
  • A decrease in the amount of urine
  • Problems urinating, such as a burning feeling or abnormal discharge during urination, or a change in the frequency of urination, especially at night
  • Mid-back pain (flank), below the ribs, near where the kidneys are located
  • High blood pressure.

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