Early Symptoms of CKD?

Updated 3/29/2022:

March is National Kidney Awareness Month.  The National Kidney Foundation and other kidney groups have a goal of raising awareness of Kidney Disease.  As someone with CKD, I will hopefully aid in this awareness.

If you read this blog, then you know I was diagnosed in 2017, but became sick on Christmas Day 2016.  As I reflect on my illness, and how it came to this, I have learned a few things.

For me, the earliest symptom, or sign that I had, that something could be wrong was foamy, or bubbly urine.  The health industry is much different since Obamacare became law.  When I was 29 I was taking a travel nurse job in Chicago and had to have a routine physical.  I had to obtain copies and mail them to the company hiring me.  I do not recall even looking at these labs, but I do remember my doctor telling me I was healthy and everything was good.  Now, in 2019, I was going through old papers that I had stored all these years.  Those labs were in there, and I looked at them noticing my urinalysis showed frothy or turbulent urine.  I have had 2 children, since those labs, with multiple urinalyses.  Again, before Obamacare labs were not provided to patients.  I had to request them, and often pay for copies, so I never actually saw any of these, but I do know that over the years I have noticed this bubbly urine.  I remember one doctor telling me I wasn’t drinking enough.  Bubbly, frothy, or turbid urine can mean there is the protein in your urine.  That means the kidneys are not working effectively.  There are other reasons for this bubbly urine, such as dehydration, but it is definitely an early warning sign and should be further investigated.  I have also noticed, now since diagnosis, that chemicals in a toilet from cleaning agents, can also cause bubbly urine, or abnormal color, so be aware of that. Some other possible early symptoms of CKD could be being tired for no reason, persistent itchy skin, achy muscles for no reason, etc.

I have also noticed with the concept of prevention becoming more prevalent in the health industry, that the kidneys are not a focus.  Breast exams, pap smears, colonoscopy, and other exams have taken a very high priority.  Prevention of kidney disease should also be at the top of that list.  Now, I always look at my labs and make sure I understand what they mean.  I keep copies of all labs and other tests.  All of my doctors now, automatically provide this info, and I don’t even have to ask.  That is awesome!  I keep a file so I can advocate for my own well-being.  The kidneys are so very complicated, and maintaining homeostasis of the body is even more complicated when the kidneys are not working correctly.  It took almost 20 years for one of my kidneys to fail, so it is a very slow process and often with minimal symptoms.  That is why it is so important that doctors and the community learn what early symptoms and risk factors are.  I really think CKD can be prevented, for at least some if not most cases.  Let’s try and make that a reality.

Everyone should have at least one Urinalysis per year.  Make sure you discuss the results with your doctor, especially if there is anything abnormal, even if it seems minimal.  There are urine sticks that can be purchased to check for Albumin in the urine.  Albumin is a protein.  I do not personally use these, but I know quite a few kidney patients who do.  I prefer to keep my protein intake at 47-50 grams per day.  Protein intake requirements vary by weight, and activity level, so do not take my intake number to mean that should be yours. I also eat an amount of protein to keep the albumin in my urine at zero.