Many Seniors With Kidney Disease Do Not Know They Have It

Kidneys filter waste from a person’s bloodstream, and kidneys are crucial to the body’s healthy functioning. Disease or damage to the kidneys can result in kidney failure. In turn, this can be the underlying cause of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Anemia
  • Bone disease
  • Nerve damage
  • hypertension

An alarming reality is that upwards of 96 percent of seniors in the early stages of chronic kidney disease do not know they have the condition. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30 million Americans live with chronic kidney disease. An October 2022 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores that this reality poses a significant problem. Specifically, at the early stages of chronic kidney disease, therapies are most effective in preventing the progression of the disease. 

A Look at Stage One Chronic Kidney Disease

In Stage One of chronic kidney disease, the kidneys work well enough. However, seniors (and others) may experience mild physical damage to their kidneys. Doctors can usually diagnose Stage One kidney disease with simple urine and blood tests. Seniors with early-stage kidney disease likely have protein in their urine and excess creatinine. Creatine is a waste product produced by muscles in a person’s blood.

Absent urine or blood tests, seniors will not be aware of this early degradation of their kidneys. Symptoms that appear as chronic kidney disease progresses are discussed later in this article. National Health Services in the United Kingdom explains, “this is because the body is usually able to cope with a significant reduction in kidney function. The disease is often only diagnosed at this stage if a routine test for another condition, such as a blood or urine test, detects a possible problem.”

Who Is at Risk for Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease, also known as renal disease, is a serious medical condition that can lead to life-threatening complications if not treated properly. Kidney disease affects millions of people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of death in some countries. It is important to understand who is at risk for kidney disease so that preventive measures can be taken to avoid this medical issue.

Several factors increase an individual’s risk for kidney diseases, such as genetics, age, gender, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Those with a family history of kidney disease or other chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or obesity may have a greater chance of developing the condition. Similarly, aging increases risk due to increased levels of toxins in the body over time and reduced efficiency in filtering waste from the body. Additionally, men are more likely to suffer from kidney problems than women.

Lifestyle choices can also increase someone’s risk for kidney disease, including smoking tobacco and consuming large amounts of alcohol regularly. Certain medications can also negatively affect kidney health, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antibiotics that work against Streptococcal bacteria, like penicillin. Finally, environmental toxins like polluted water sources or exposure to harmful chemicals may harm kidneys over time with repeated contact or ingestion.

It is important to understand who is at risk for developing kidney disease so that preventive measures can be taken. This includes regularly seeing a doctor for checkups and taking care of overall health by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking tobacco or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Individuals should talk to their physicians about family history or any other risk factors to determine if additional steps should be taken to prevent kidney damage before it occurs. With awareness and proper care, individuals can ensure their kidneys remain healthy now and into the future.

Signs of Kidney Disease in Seniors

Kidney disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can affect older adults. As our bodies age, the risk of developing kidney-related health problems increases. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to kidney disease due to weakened immune systems and decreased organ function. For these reasons, seniors need to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of kidney disease so they can seek medical attention as soon as possible.

One of the earliest and most common warning signs of kidney disease in seniors is an increase in urinary frequency or urgency. People with healthy kidneys do not usually experience excessive urination, so any sudden changes should be taken seriously. Patients may also notice a decrease in urine output, a change in the color or consistency of their urine, or increased pain during urination. If any of these symptoms are combined with other factors, such as fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting, it could indicate a more serious kidney problem.

Another early sign of kidney disease is swelling in different body areas, such as around the ankles and wrists. This is caused by fluid buildup due to an inability of the kidneys to filter out excess water from the bloodstream, which then accumulates in various parts of the body. If you notice any swelling accompanied by high blood pressure or breathlessness, you should contact your doctor immediately for further investigation into your renal health.

Fatigue and lack of energy are other telltale signs that something might go wrong with your kidneys’ function. When our kidneys work correctly, they are responsible for removing waste from our bodies while maintaining proper electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which support normal energy levels. A decrease in energy could indicate something isn’t quite right with your renal system and warrants medical attention immediately if this symptom persists over time rather than just being due to chronic exhaustion or aging processes alone.

Finally, difficulty concentrating or “brain fog” could also indicate underlying issues within the kidneys due to their role in eliminating toxins from our bloodstreams which can interfere with cognitive functioning if not properly processed through healthy organs. If you’re experiencing mental fogginess along with any other symptoms listed here, such as frequent urination or swelling around your joints, it would be wise to get checked out by a physician regardless if all other potential causes have been ruled out first.