Food Tastes Like Metal
Why this happens:
A build-up of wastes in the blood can make food taste different and cause bad breath. You may also notice that you stop liking to eat meat, or that you are losing weight because you just don’t feel like eating.
What patients said:
Foul taste in your mouth. Almost like you’re drinking iron.
I don’t have the appetite I had before I started dialysis, I must have lost about 10 pounds.
Why Are The Kidneys So Important
Most people know that a major function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. These waste products and excess fluid are removed through the urine. The production of urine involves highly complex steps of excretion and re-absorption. This process is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.
The critical regulation of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content is performed by the kidneys. The kidneys also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, a hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates red blood cell production. Other hormones produced by the kidneys help regulate blood pressure and control calcium metabolism.
The kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
- remove waste products from the body
- remove drugs from the body
- balance the body’s fluids
- release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
- control the production of red blood cells
Below you will find more information about the kidneys and the vital role they play in keeping your body functioning.
Causes Of Kidney Infections
A kidney infection happens when bacteria infects your kidneys. The bacteria are usually a type called E. coli, which live in your bowel.
The bacteria get in through the opening of the urethra and move upwards through your urinary tract, first infecting your bladder and then your kidneys.
It’s thought the bacteria can get into your urinary tract by accidentally spreading from your anus to your urethra. This can happen if you wipe your bottom after going to the toilet and the soiled toilet paper comes into contact with your genitals. It can also happen during sex.
In rare cases, a kidney infection can develop if bacteria or fungi infect the skin and the infection spreads through your bloodstream into your kidney. However, this type of infection usually only occurs in people with weakened immune systems.
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Kidney Location Where Are Your Kidneys Located
As mentioned above most people have one kidney on each side of the posterior abdominal area. The specific location of the kidneys sometimes causes the pain sensation to be confused with other types of pain such as liver or back pain. It is very important to understand the exact location and sensation of kidney pain.
The picture below shows a drawing each kidney in the area where they are located. Flank pain is specifically found in this area. If movement of the muscle or massage does not relieve pain in this area you may be experiencing kidney pain.
Flank pain which is sharp or doesnt change upon movement is most likely kidney pain and not muscular pain.
Picture 1 : Surface of the kidney location Image source : meded.ucsd.edu
Can Kidneys Recover After Covid
As of yet, Sperati says, its uncertain how many people with COVID-19-related kidney damage regain their kidney function.
He says, Patients with acute kidney injury due to COVID-19 who do not require dialysis will have better outcomes than those who need dialysis, and we have seen patients at Johns Hopkins who recover kidney function. We have even had patients in the ICU with acute kidney injury who have required dialysis, and subsequently regained their kidney function. How often that occurs is still not known, but without question, the need for dialysis is a worrisome development in patients with COVID-19.
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Risk Factors For A Kidney Infection
There are a few things that can up your risk factor of contracting a kidney infection, according to the Mayo Clinic, and some you have zero control over:
Having avagina. The urethra, that small tube that carries urine out of your body, is shorter in people with vaginas than it is in people with penises. That makes it easier for bacteria to travel from outside your body into the bladder. Your urethra is also close to your vagina and anus, which opens you up to more chances that bacteria from one of those areas will get into your urinary tract.
Having something blocking your urinary tract. That can be anything that slows down the flow of urine or makes it hard for you to fully empty your bladder when you pee, like a kidney stone.
Having a weak immune system. Having an underlying medical condition like diabetes or HIV, or using medications that tamp down on your immune system, can increase your risk.
Other potential risk factors include having damage to the nerves around your bladder, using a urinary catheter for the first time, and having a condition like vesicoureteral reflux, which causes urine to flow the wrong way, the Mayo Clinic says.
Feeling Tired Or Sluggish During The Day
Everyone has a day when they feel tired maybe you didnt get enough sleep, or ate the wrong foods, or some other temporary factors are at play. But sometimes, fatigue is caused by lack of a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO. The main function of EPO is to stimulate the production of red blood cells, and red blood cells carry energizing oxygen to cells throughout your body.
Stressed kidneys do not produce enough EPO, thereby reducing the number of red blood cells and making you feel weak and tired out.
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When To See A Doctor
People will often assume that sudden flank pain is caused by a pulled muscle or overexertion, and, in many cases, it will be.
If the pain persists, worsens, or is accompanied by urinary symptoms or signs of infections, you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. This is especially true if you are experiencing high fever, chills, vomiting, or the inability to urinate.
Even if a kidney infection is mild, it can sometimes progress and lead to bacteremia if left untreated. This is a condition in which a local bacterial infection âspills overâ over into the bloodstream, causing systemic and potentially life-threatening symptoms, including irregular body temperatures, disruptions in breathing, a severe drop in blood pressure, and shock.
Given that acute pyelonephritis can strike in as little as two days, a rapid response is essential.
The same applies if you experience a dull but persistent pain alongside uncommon symptoms such as painful urination, chronic fatigue, or unexplained weight loss. None of these should be considered normal, and you shouldnât wait until there is visible blood in urine to seek care.
If you are pregnant, don’t assume that persistent back pain is pregnancy-related. Be cognizant if there is a dull ache across your lower back or along the sides of your back between the ribs and hips. If accompanied by symptoms of infection or changes in urination, call your doctor immediately.
Coronavirus Kidney Damage: A Serious Sign
Organ systems like the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys rely on and support one another’s functions, so when the new coronavirus causes damage in one area, others might be at risk. The kidneys essential functions have an impact on the heart, lungs and other systems. That may be why doctors note that kidney damage arising in patients with COVID-19 is a possible warning sign of a serious, even fatal course of the disease.
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What Is Kidney Pain
People often mistake kidney pain as back pain.
Unlike back pain, which usually occurs in the lower back, kidney pain is deeper and higher up the back. The kidneys can be found underneath the ribcage, on each side of the spine. Pain from the kidneys is felt in the sides, or in the middle to upper back . The pain may also progress to other areas, such as the abdomen or groin.
Kidney pain is a result of swelling or blockage in the kidneys or urinary tract. Other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, or painful urination are clues that the pain is a result of a kidney problem.
Evaluation And Treatment Of Flank Pain
After noting symptoms, the doctor examines the person and usually does a urinalysis to check for red blood cells or excess white blood cells. White blood cells in the urine suggest an infection. If an infection is suspected, a urine culture is usually done. A person with very severe, cramping pain and blood in the urine is very likely to have a kidney stone. A person with milder, steady pain, tenderness when the doctor taps over one kidney, fever, and excess white blood cells in the urine is likely to have a kidney infection.
If a kidney stone is suspected, the doctor often does computed tomography or ultrasonography to determine whether a stone is the cause, the size and location of the stone, and whether it significantly blocks urine flow. An intravenous contrast agent is not used for the CT scan. If the doctor is not sure of the cause of pain, often CT that uses an intravenous contrast agent or another imaging test is done.
The underlying disorder is treated. Mild pain can be relieved by taking acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . Pain from kidney stones may be severe and may require use of intravenous or oral opioids.
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Symptoms Of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is called a silent disease as there are often no warning signs. People may lose up to 90 per cent of their kidney function before getting any symptoms. The first signs of kidney disease may be general and can include:
- high blood pressure
- changes in the amount and number of times urine is passed
- changes in the appearance of urine
- blood in the urine
- puffiness of the legs and ankles
- pain in the kidney area
- have a family history of kidney failure
- have a history of acute kidney injury
- are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.
Signs Of A Kidney Infection To Know And When To Go To The Hospital
Youre probably not constantly on the lookout for signs of a kidney infection. But getting a urinary tract infection can open you up to also getting an infection in one or both kidneys, which means this is an illness that should be on your radar. Yep, it’s an unfortunate truth: A urinary tract infection can lead to a kidney infection, which is medically known as pyelonephritis and can be incredibly serious. So if youre experiencing symptoms of a UTI and thinking, Eh, I can wait a few more days to get those antibiotics, think again. Heres what you need to know about the signs of a kidney infection, its underlying causes, why its so important to get treatment as soon as you can, and more.
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Shortness Of Breath After Very Little Effort
Why this happens:
Being short of breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. And second, anemia can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.
What patients said:
At the times when I get the shortness of breath, it’s alarming to me. It just fears me. I think maybe I might fall or something so I usually go sit down for awhile.
I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t catch my breath, like I was drowning or something. And, the bloating, can’t breathe, can’t walk anywhere. It was bad.
Coronavirus: Kidney Damage Caused By Covid
COVID-19 the disease caused by the coronavirus thats led to the global pandemic is known to damage the lungs. But, as more people become infected, more understanding of the disease emerges.
Doctors and researchers are finding that this coronavirus officially called SARS-CoV-2can also cause severe and lasting harm in other organs, including the heart and kidneys. C. John Sperati, M.D., M.H.S., an expert in kidney health, discusses how the new coronavirus might affect kidney function as the illness develops and afterward as a person recovers.
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What Are The Causes Of Back Pain And Kidney Pain
Back pain most often occurs when the back is overworked, strained, or frequently subjected to poor posture.
Kidney pain has five major causes :
1. Kidney stones
These are hard deposits of minerals and salts that can form in your kidneys and create some excruciating blockage. If theyre very small stones, they may flush out without any pain, says Santiago. If they are larger, the pain is fairly sharp, and it tends to come in waves. In other words, the pain tends to get worse when the stone moves.
Its also typically one-sided, adds Santiago. You dont typically get bad stones on both sides at the same time.
2. A UTI gone too far
Sometimes a urinary tract infection can get out of hand as the harmful bacteria crawl their way through the bladder and up to the kidneys.
With a kidney infection, it’s going to be that dull, continuous pain, says Santiago. UTIs that turn into kidney infections are also more likely to cause fever, chills, and nausea.
Fortunately, your kidneys are guarded by your ribcage and tough back muscles, so kidney injuries arent super common. But if youre into contact sports, happen to be in an accident, or end up in any situation where you take an extremely hard blow to the flank, you could do some organ damage.
4. Polycystic Kidney Disease
5. Kidney tumor
Upset Stomach Nausea Vomiting
Why this happens:
A severe build-up of wastes in the blood can also cause nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss.
What patients said:
I had a lot of itching, and I was nauseated, throwing up all the time. I couldn’t keep anything down in my stomach.
When I got the nausea, I couldn’t eat and I had a hard time taking my blood pressure pills.
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How Is A Kidney Infection Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, do a physical exam, and likely run some diagnostic tests. Those include a urinalysis, to check your pee under a microscope for bacteria and white blood cells, which your body makes to fight infection, and a urine culture to help find out what kind of bacteria is causing the infection, the NIDDK says. Your doctor may even take a blood sample to check for bacteria or other organisms in your blood, the Mayo Clinic says.
Other tests that might come up include an ultrasound, a CT scan, or a form of X-ray called a voiding cystourethrogram, which involves injecting a contrast dye to take X-rays of your bladder when its full and while youre peeing, per the Mayo Clinic.
How Is A Kidney Infection Treated
A kidney infection needs to be treated urgently with antibiotics. If it’s not treated quickly, the infection can get worse and cause . This can cause permanent damage to your kidneys and can even lead to death.
The infection usually starts to clear up within a few days of taking the antibiotic, but you must take the entire course of antibiotics to make sure the infection is completely cleared.
Your antibiotic may need to be changed to a different one after few days if:
- you are not getting better or
- your urine test results show a different antibiotic is needed.
For a severe kidney infection, your doctor may admit you to the hospital. Treatment in hospital may include antibiotics that you receive through a vein in your arm . You may also be prescribed medicine such as paracetamol for pain and fever.
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Kidney Pain Location And Sensation
Most people tend to associate pain in the area between the ribs and hips as either digestive problems or muscular back pain. However, kidney pain isnt always felt in the same place as the kidneys location.
Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on MedicineNet explains that renal or flank pain can be felt anywhere between the lowest rib and the buttocks. The pain may also radiate to the groin or abdominal area. Depending on the underlying cause of the kidney pain, you may feel the pain in just the left or right side of your back. However, sometimes kidney pain affects both sides of the back.3
How Do You Know If You Have Kidney Pain
Kidney pain, or renal pain, is usually felt in your back . It can spread to other areas, like the sides, upper abdomen or groin. If you have a kidney stone, you usually feel the pain in your back, side, lower belly or groin.
Back pain due to muscle problems is usually in your lower back. Pain due to kidney problems is usually deeper and higher in your back, under your ribs.
Signs that it is a kidney problem can also include fever, vomiting, pain in your sides or painful urination.
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