Signs and symptoms of kidney disease

doctor holding plastic kdiney
Explore the symptoms of kidney disease and kidney failure.
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
July 15, 2024

Chronic kidney disease is classified in stages 1–5, which correspond to the severity of underlying kidney disease. Most people do not have symptoms of kidney disease until the damage is very severe and they are close to kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).

You may experience symptoms of kidney disease when your kidneys are not appropriately filtering toxic waste and fluid from your body, and too much waste or fluid build up.

Symptoms of kidney disease and kidney failure

If your kidneys are starting to fail, you may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling less hungry than normal
  • Swelling in your hands, legs, feet or ankles 
  • Urinating (peeing) more or less than normal
  • Trouble catching your breath 
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Pain in your lower back 

Many people with stage 3 kidney disease do not have any symptoms. At stage 4 kidney disease, many people start to show symptoms. Remember, the only way to know how well your kidneys are working is to get tested for kidney disease.

Learn more about symptoms of kidney failure

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