Kidney Disease

Causes and Signs of Kidney Failure


Generally speaking, people are at an increased risk of kidney failure if they have diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), a family history of kidney disease, or are of older age. Additionally, people with complications like anemia, diabetes or heart disease, might develop symptoms sooner than patients without these other conditions. The most common causes of kidney failure include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic inflammation in the kidney (glomerulonephritis)
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Recurrent infections
  • Chronic obstruction - blockage of the flow of urine
  • Traumatic injury


Most symptoms of kidney failure are nonspecific, meaning that the same symptoms could apply to a variety of diseases or conditions. For example, the most common symptoms are loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting — but even the common cold or flu can produce those symptoms. It’s important to be overly cautious though. Other symptoms include:

  • Fluid retention
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mental confusion
  • Abnormal blood or urine test results (often occur before any other signs or symptoms)
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure

Learn more about kidneys and how they work.

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Crozer-Chester Medical Center

Crozer-Chester Medical Center

One Medical Center Boulevard
POB II, Suite 220
Upland, PA 19013