The Role of Oxygen in Kidney Disease Symptoms

Thinking of the internal organs in isolation, one may not suspect loss of oxygen to be one a major factor in kidney disease. But the interconnection of bodily systems means that a problem starting in one organ can have far-reaching and surprising effects in others. A lack of oxygen is one problem that can begin with the kidneys, but go on to affect the lungs and brain as well.

Kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin that signals the production of red blood cells. If the kidneys are failing, they create less of this hormone, meaning the body produces lower numbers of these cells. And since those cells carry oxygen, the body eventually suffers from anemia, a lack of oxygen.

One sign of oxygen starvation may be weary muscles. These rely on the oxygen carried by red blood cells, so if they get less of this vital fuel, they work less efficiently. A person may experience increased fatigue long before he has any idea he has kidney disease. The lungs are another area that might be affected. If the body is starved of oxygen, this can lead to shortness of breath. The lungs can’t take enough oxygen into the cells reaching the lungs, nor can those cells expel enough carbon dioxide. Eventually, as well as causing shortness of breath, this builds up acidity in the system.

The most surprising symptoms of kidney disease and oxygen starvation, though, may appear in the brain. Without enough oxygen, a person’s concentration can be affected. She may become dizzy. There could even be difficulty in remembering things.

People associate kidney disease with more obvious signs: back ache or a change in urine frequency and color. But because of the interconnected bodily systems, kidney disease may be signalled as much by dizziness or fatigue from a lack of oxygen as by painful urination. Keeping an eye on the body’s complete general health is essential to the early detection of kidney disease.

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