Early on, people may not have any symptoms to tell them that their kidneys are not functioning properly.  That is why regular physicals, with blood tests and urine tests, are so important. Test results may show signs of kidney disease even when a patient feels fine. As the kidney disease progresses, a person may feel sick sometimes. However, the change may be so slow that he or she does not do anything about these feelings. Symptoms may also be due to another illness or problem.
Complete kidney failure, however, causes many changes in the body, and people feel some stronger symptoms. Symptoms may vary from person to person. One person may experience many of the symptoms that follow, but another person may not.
Feeling generally sick
When the kidneys begin to fail, waste products will build up in the blood. This may cause a person to feel generally sick. Symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite, itching, and/or disturbed sleep.

Fluid Retention

The kidney may produce less urine, which may cause extra fluid to build up in the body. This is called oedema.   People with this problem may have swollen hands and ankles. They may gain fluid weight, and/or may be short of breath doing activities such as walking or climbing a few stairs.


The body will not produce as many red blood cells when the kidneys are not working. People with anaemia may feel weak, cold and tired. A drug that acts like the bbody's hormone, erythropoietin, stimulates the production of red blood cells. The drug may be used to treat this type of anaemia.
Toxin build up
When the kidneys are not working to clean the blood, waste products called toxins will build up in the body. This may cause fatigue, loss of appetite, and may make the person's skin feel itchy.
• A headache.
• Puffiness around the eyes.
• Diarrhoea.
• Decreased sexual interest.
• Increased thirst.
• Feeling cold.
• Drowsiness or confusion.
• Decrease of urine output.
• Trouble concentrating.
The function of the Health Start Clinic is primarily to educate and manage patients with early renal disease. The aim is to ensure that the patient remains as healthy as possible and maintains a high standard of living.
The Healthy Start Clinic is unique to National Renal Care, and all our centres country wide offers this program which includes education, dietary advice, management and psycho-social support for both the patient and family.
Contact (011) 726 5206 or your nearest centre for further information.