Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Kidney disease symptoms

Kidney disease can cause many different problems.

The most common problems are:

  • anaemia (a lack of red blood cells, which in turn can make you tired, breathless, dizzy, depressed and prone to feeling the cold)
  • pain in the bones, joints, muscles or nerves
  • muscle cramps, especially in the legs
  • changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
  • problems with your mouth or teeth (for example, bad breath, a metallic taste in the mouth)
  • itchy skin
  • bruising
  • depression, anxiety, irritability, moodiness
  • trouble sleeping
  • hair loss.

If you have a kidney stone, the movement of the stone inside the kidney or ureter (a tube connecting the kidney and the bladder) can cause symptoms such as strong pain below the ribs, painful, discoloured or foul-smelling urine, or other problems with urination such as a persistent urge to go to the toilet. A kidney infection can cause similar symptoms.

The body can cope with the kidneys not working properly for quite a while. This can be a problem, because signs and symptoms of kidney disease may not appear until a lot of damage has already been done. People can lose 90% of their kidney function before they experience any symptoms. This makes it particularly important to take notice of any symptoms that do appear, and seek medical advice.

Signs you may have problems with your kidneys include:

  • high blood pressure
  • changes in the amount and number of times you pass urine
  • changes in how your urine looks (such as frothy or foaming urine)
  • blood in your urine
  • puffiness in your legs, ankles or around your eyes
  • pain in your kidney area
  • tiredness, difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • headaches
  • poor concentration
  • itching
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bad breath and a metallic taste in your mouth
  • muscle cramps
  • pins and needles in your fingers or toes.

Last reviewed: February 2017

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 1262 results

Kidney disease

Each year, more than 500,000 Australians consult their doctors about kidney disease and urinary tract infections. One in three Australian adults is at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and one in ten has some sign of chronic kidney disease.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Diabetic Kidney Disease

Diabetes is a major cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Diabetes is caused by problems with the production and/or action of insulin.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Kidney disease tests and procedures

People with kidney disease often undergo a lot   of medical tests and procedures. They are needed   to confirm a diagnosis, plan treatment or check   progress. Some of the most commonly used tests   for people with kidney disease are outlined in this   fact sheet.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Kidney Disease Tests & Procedures

People with kidney disease often undergo a lot   of medical tests and procedures. They are needed   to confirm a diagnosis, plan treatment or check   progress.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is a debilitating chronic disease in its own right, but can also contribute to, or be impacted by, other prominent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.

Read more on Department of Health website

Nutrition and Kidney Disease

Managing what you eat when you have kidney disease can be a challenge but can have a positive influence on how you feel and the other treatments you might need.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Treatment for kidney disease | Kidney Health Australia

Treatment may vary depending on the stage and cause of your kidney disease.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Kidney disease | Kidney Health Australia

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Types of kidney disease | Kidney Health Australia

Kidney disease is broadly classified into acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. Acute kidney injury Acute kidney injury is sudden damage to the kidneys. In many cases it will be short term but in some people it may lead to long-term chronic

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Common Kidney Disease Symptoms and Management Options

Kidney disease can affect many aspects of your health. These complications may be caused either by kidney disease itself, or by its treatment (e.g., side‐effects of medications).

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback