Kidneys are one of the important vital organs in the body. They are bean-shaped, each is about the size of your fist. They are positioned just below the rib cage, on either side of your spine.

The primary function of your kidneys is to eliminate the waste and excess water from your blood. They’re a part of your urinary tract, which produces urine and removes it from your body.

Urinary tract comprises of 4 parts.

    • Kidneys -filters wastes from your blood and helps form urine.
    • Ureters – thin tubes, one each kidney, that connects the urinary bladder and carries urine from kidneys to the urinary bladder.
    • Bladder – stores your urine.
    • Urethra – carries urine from the bladder to outside your body.

If any of these parts get infected with bacteria, you may get “a urinary tract infection (UTI)”. The bacteria which is often associated with urinary tract infection is E. coli. Usually, the infection starts with the bladder and travels up to the kidneys through ureters, which causes a much more serious problem like “Kidney infection” often referred to as “Renal infection”.

1. Fatigue:

Erythropoietin (EPO) produced by the kidneys is a hormone that helps in the formation of red blood cells (RBC’s) by the bone marrow. In kidney infection, production of erythropoietin is affected, that affects the formation of new RBC’s. Low red blood cells mean less oxygen to reach muscles and brain, this leaves you sluggish and tired.

Another reason for your fatigue is a reduction of kidney function, that can cause accumulation of toxins and impurities in the blood. This can lead to fatigue as well.

2. Reduction in urination:

Frequent urination can be a symptom of a bladder, not a kidney problem but it cannot be ignored. However, if you have a kidney problem, you may urinate less often due to reduced function of your kidneys and also due to pain while urinating, and this can lead to a decrease in urination.

3. Foul smell in urine:

Low kidney function and reduced bladder emptying can cause waste chemicals such as urea, creatinine, uric acid, etc. in urine to become accumulated and concentrated, and this can lead to pungent smell that resembles of ammonia.

4. Difficulty urinating:

People suffering from kidney infection can experience pain or a burning sensation while urinating, this can occur as a result of inflammation of the urethra due to infection or highly concentrated urine.

5. Urine discoloration:

The consistency and color of your urine may change during a kidney infection because of the accumulation of waste chemicals such as urea, creatinine, uric acid, etc. in urine. This can happen because you may urinate less often, or in smaller quantity than usual. Your urine may sometimes contain blood.

6. Fever and Chills:

Infection in your kidneys affects the production of erythropoietin which is responsible for the production of red blood cells (RBC), and this can lead to anaemia which makes you feel cold all the time, even in a warm room.

7. Breathlessness:

There can be two possible reasons for being short of breath. The first is because the extra-fluid from the body is not excreted, the extra-fluid builds-up in the lungs. The other reason is that anaemia causes less oxygen-carrying red blood cells, that leaves the tissues starving for oxygen this causes the lungs to breath more rapidly.

8. Confusion:

Anaemia related to kidney failure causes tissues to crave for more oxygen including your brain, this can cause confusion, dizziness and sometimes fainting.

9. Swelling:

Oedema or swelling is one of the serious signs of kidney failure. Due to kidney impairment, extra fluid is not eliminated and retains in your body, which causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, hands. A swollen or puffy face can also occur due to a kidney infection.

10. Severe itching:

Kidneys remove waste byproduct from the blood such as urea, creatinine, uric acid, etc. When the kidneys do not function properly, the accumulation of wastes in your blood can lead to severe itching.

11. Metallic taste:

A build-up of wastes in the blood such as urea can cause a metallic taste in mouth and can make food taste different. You may also lose appetite and weight because you don’t feel like eating food.

12. Bad Breath:

An accumulation of wastes in the blood such as urea can cause bad breath that often smells pungent like ammonia.

13. Loss of appetite:

A build-up of wastes in the blood such as urea can make food taste different. You may lose interest in food because the food does not feel the same anymore.

14. Foamy urine:

You may have foamy urine if you have an impaired kidney function as more waste builds up in the blood and accumulation of protein in the urine causes foamy urine.

15. Vomiting:

A severe build-up of toxins in the blood like urea can change the taste and may cause nausea and vomiting.

16. Cramps:

Severe loss of kidney function makes metabolic wastes to accumulate in higher levels in the blood, damaging muscles and nerves, and this can cause muscle twitches, muscle weakness, cramps, and pain.


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