Taking care of your kidneys is essential for overall well-being, as these vital organs play a crucial role in maintaining health.

. Neglecting their well-being, however, can lead to various problems including renal dysfunction, blood in urine, and high blood pressure.

As kidney diseases can impact individuals of all ages, it is crucial to recognize signs of potential kidney problems and seek immediate medical attention to prevent worsening conditions.

Below are five warning signs that indicate your kidneys may be experiencing impaired function:

  1. Dry and scratchy skin: Dry and itchy skin can be an indication of mineral and bone disease, often associated with kidney dysfunction. This happens when the kidneys are no longer able to maintain the right balance of minerals and nutrients in the bloodstream.
  2. Sleep apnea: Not getting enough sleep at night? Get your kidneys checked, as research suggests it is a marker of an advanced-stage renal disease.
  3. Muscle cramping: Patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) commonly experience chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP), which significantly impacts their overall well-being and quality of life, a 2016 study published in PubMed indicated.
  4. Reduced appetite: A sudden drop in appetite can point to kidney disease. Low levels of acylated ghrelin and high levels of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6) were observed in patients with chronic kidney disease, which can be the key reason behind aversion to food, according to a study published in PubMed in 2021.
  5. Frequent urge to urinate: Kidney disease may not directly cause increased urination frequency. However, in the event of a kidney disease, a person can experience increased urine output at night alongside encountering other issues like High blood pressure and diabetes, according to Southwest Kidney. Increased frequency to urinate may also indicate prostate issues in males.

Kidney diseases aren't always necessarily fatal, but doctors implore to get medical attention when it is in a mild stage. Any extent of kidney damage can be diagnosed by targeted blood and urine tests. Managing diabetes and blood sugar levels is also imperative to keep your kidney functioning well.

In South Africa, the five-year survival rate of HIV kidney transplants is around 74 percent. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock