The kidneys are the body’s primary biological filter. Metabolic products, drugs, salts, and water are excreted in the urine. If the organs are inflamed or damaged, it is dangerous to health. We will tell you how to understand that the kidneys hurt, and what symptoms you need to pay attention to.

The structure and function of the urinary system

The kidneys are a key part of the urinary system. Every healthy person has two of them, they are located deep in the abdominal cavity, on the back. They are located in the area of ​​the border between the chest and the abdominal cavity, on both sides of the spinal column, the upper third is covered with ribs for additional protection in case of shock or falls. The organs are similar in shape to beans; in adults, they are the size of a human fist.


If the kidneys are healthy, they filter out about 200 ml of blood every minute, removing waste products of metabolism, excess salts, and water in the urine.

The active work of the organs maintains the electrolyte balance – the correct ratio of minerals (sodium, magnesium, phosphorus).

They regulate protein metabolism, synthesize hormones that maintain a stable level of blood pressure, and produce erythropoietin, a compound that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells (erythrocytes).

Kidney health is important for maintaining skeletal strength – they regulate calcium and vitamin D metabolism.

Factors Affecting Kidney Health


The urinary system, along with the liver, is the main factory for the detoxification of waste, intermediate metabolites, drugs, and vitamins. Discover symptoms on the next page.


What can harm the urinary system?

  • Unfavorable ecology
  • Air pollution, drinking water
  • Food toxins
  • Excessive medication
  • Bad habits
  • Unhealthy food
  • Frequent infections
  • Chronic pathologies
  • Inflammatory processes in the pelvis and glomeruli
  • Toxic damage of hypoxia (oxygen deficiency due to impaired blood flow)

For a long time, the kidneys can suffer in silence, and the person does not feel pain or other symptoms, although the work of the organs has already significantly deteriorated.

How to know if your kidneys hurt

Urologists identify a number of changes, which together can be a cause for concern, going to the doctor for urine tests and an ultrasound scan. The specialist will determine the scope of other examinations.

1-Foamy urine


A small amount of foam in the urine is acceptable if the urine stream is strong. But the bubbles should disappear quickly. If the foam is plentiful, additional symptoms appear, it’s time to see a doctor, get tested. Foaming is possible when there is protein, certain toxins, or cells in the urine. This is a sign that the kidneys are impaired, they are filtering the blood inadequately due to the inflammatory process, trauma, or circulatory disorders in the renal arteries. Read more kidneys hurt symptoms on the next page

2-Discoloration of urine

Depending on the volume of fluid consumed, the ambient temperature, the color in a healthy person varies from light yellow to amber. The use of certain coloring foods (rhubarb, beetroot, sorrel), B vitamins, or medications can temporarily change the color to bright yellow, pink or greenish. But if the nutrition does not change, and the urine acquires a pink or reddish tint, smells sharp, foams – this is an alarming sign.

3-Turbidity, flakes in the urine

Determining how the kidneys are hurting, evaluating symptoms in men or women that clearly indicate problems – this is the turbidity of urine or the appearance of white, yellowish flakes. They appear with urolithiasis or inflammatory process with pyelonephritis or glomerulonephritis.

Uniform turbidity of urine without flakes is possible with dehydration. In this case, urine is concentrated, more salts accumulate in it, which form a suspension. If increasing your water intake does not solve the problem, see your doctor.

4-Pain syndrome

lower back

If renal colic occurs, its symptoms are difficult to confuse with anything. This is a sharp pain under the ribs, arising in waves, along the right or left side of the spine, shooting into the groin or abdominal cavity. It is accompanied by nausea or vomiting. Renal colic occurs if a stone gets stuck in the ureter, the outflow of urine is impaired.


With inflammation, the kidney swells, increases in size. It is important to know how to determine if your kidneys or back hurt. Doctors can use light tapping on the lumbar region: if the kidney tissue is damaged, the pain in this place increases. See more symptoms on the next page

5-General malaise, weakness

The kidneys are involved in the production of red blood cells by secreting a hormone called erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to form new cells. If they are damaged, the secretion of the hormone decreases, signs of anemia may appear with weakness, pallor, and a feeling of constant fatigue.

6-Headache, dizziness

The main task of the kidneys is to remove waste metabolites and toxic compounds from the body. If the organs are damaged, they do not fully cope with this task, and toxins, and metabolic products accumulate in the blood plasma, negatively affecting the functioning of the nervous system and brain. This provokes memory problems, impaired concentration, headache, or occasional dizziness. If anemia occurs with kidney disease, symptoms may worsen due to a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain cells. Read about more symptoms on the next page

7-Abdominal pain with nausea, vomiting

unhealthy habits health

If the diet does not change, all the products are fresh, of high quality, but nausea, swelling, or pain in the navel area, vomiting attacks, the cause may be kidney pathologies. Organs cannot fully remove toxic metabolic products; they accumulate in the blood, provoking signs of poisoning.

8- Frequent urge to urinate

Increased urination, and imperative urge (a sudden urge to visit the toilet when only a few drops of urine are released) are characteristic of urinary tract infections – cystitis or urethritis. Less commonly, these symptoms occur with kidney inflammation. It can be pyelonephritis, urolithiasis, or glomerular damage in diabetes mellitus.

9-The appearance of edema

If the kidneys cannot cope with the removal of excess fluid from the body, swelling occurs on the face, around the eyes, or on the legs, in the area of ​​the foot. It is important to understand how the kidneys hurt: symptoms in women, especially edema, can occur:

  • when consuming very salty food,
  • a large amount of liquid
  • against the background of hormonal changes,
  • taking certain medications
  • during pregnancy.

It is important to distinguish physiological from pathological edema. If the swelling disappears within a few hours, it occurs only occasionally – this is a variant of the norm. But daily swelling in the morning, after waking up, is a signal that the kidneys may hurt.  

10-Dry and pale skin


The kidneys regulate the balance of fluids and minerals, vitamins and protein, and eliminate toxins. It is with urine that protein, water, and minerals are lost, this threatens dryness and flaking of the skin. Anemia due to erythropoietin deficiency plays a significant role. See more signs and symptoms on the next page

11-Pressure increase

The kidneys are actively involved in the regulation of blood pressure, removing excess sodium and water from the body. In addition, they secrete the hormone renin, which increases pressure and blood flow to organs to eliminate glomerular hypoxia. If there are diseases of the urinary system, especially inflammation of the renal tubules and glomeruli (glomerulonephritis), pressure may rise sharply. It is very poorly reduced due to traditional antihypertensive drugs, you need to ask your doctor about the correct methods of treatment.

12-Elevated temperature

Prolonged fever, chills, and heavy sweating can be symptoms of kidney inflammation – pyelonephritis. An increase in temperature is accompanied by malaise, back pain, nausea, and changes in the urine. But there are no signs of a cold, antipyretics do not reduce the temperature well, it rises again after a few hours.

Examination for suspected kidney disease

  • The first thing that is necessary if kidney problems are suspected is to see a therapist or nephrologist. 
  • To recognize kidney abnormalities, the doctor will order urine and blood tests, an ultrasound of the kidneys and bladder.
  • Women need to check for signs of gynecological abnormalities that may have similar symptoms.
  • Kidney health in pregnant women should be constantly monitored. During this period, inflammatory processes are more common, they negatively affect the health of the woman herself, her unborn child. Therefore, it is necessary to treat any pathology when the first alarming symptoms appear. 

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