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Symptoms & Causes of Water Retention Because of Kidney Disease

Water or fluid retention, also called as edema indicates the accumulation of clear yet watery fluid in an abnormal manner in the cavities or tissues present in the human body. In simple words, fluid/water retention or edema takes place by the excess amount of trapped fluid in the tissues of a human body. The problem may affect almost every part of one’s body; individuals may often notice the problem more in the arms, hands, legs, feet and ankles. Edema or water retention may be caused because of many reasons, but it is very common because of kidney problems in patients.

Symptoms of Water Retention Because of Kidney Disease

Symptoms of Water Retention Because of Kidney Disease

Water retention because of kidney disease may involve the following major symptoms-

  • Person suffering from water retention may have symptoms of puffiness or swelling of tissues, which remain present directly beneath the skin, particularly in the arms or legs of a person
  • Shiny or stretched skin is a symptoms of water retention
  • Skin to retain pits or dimples after pressed for a period of many seconds
  • Increase in the size of one’s abdomen is also a sign of water retention because of kidney disease.

Causes of Water Retention Due to Kidney Disease and Kidney Damage

Whenever a person suffers from a kidney disease, sodium and additional fluid in the circulation may cause the problem of water retention. Furthermore, damage to the nephrons or filtering blood vessels present in the kidney may cause nephritic syndrome, because of which declining albumin/protein present in the blood result in accumulation of fluid and the problem of water retention. Based on the facts mentioned here, water retention mainly occurs in patients with kidney problems because of two major reasons, which include:

Heavy Protein Loss via Urine

When heavy protein loss takes place in the urine, patients deal with abnormal kidney functions. Heavy protein loss in human urine i.e. more than 0.3 grams in one day with its accompanying fluid retention implies nephritic syndrome. This syndrome leads to further reduction in the albumin concentration in the human blood. We know that albumin plays a prime role to maintain the level or volume of blood present in blood vessels. Hence, protein excretion causes reduction in the actual amount of fluid present in blood vessels. Kidneys then identify the depletion of exact volume of blood and hence, put efforts to retain the salt. Thus, fluid moves within the interstitial spaces and causes water retention. Protein loss in the urine takes place in specific kidney problems and thereby, leads to the edema development. In this situation, doctors go for biopsy of the patient’s kidneys to diagnose the type of kidney problem and thereby, give the right treatment.

Impaired Renal/Kidney Function

In case of impaired renal or kidney function, patients suffering from impaired kidney or renal functions develop the problem of fluid retention or edema because of the limitation of the ability of kidneys to excrete sodium components in the form of urine. In this way, when sodium intake of kidney failure patients exceeds the capability of kidneys to excrete sodium in the form of waste, they suffer from edema problem irrespective of the actual cause of kidney failure.

Moreover, the problem associated with salt retention becomes more likely when the kidney failure goes to its advanced stage. End-stage kidney failure is particularly the severe most situations, where patients require therapy in the form of dialysis. Here, dialysis helps in regulating the salt balance of a patient to remove salt at the time of the exact treatment.

Dialysis involves the method to cleanse a patient body from various impurities, which accumulate when kidney failure takes place. The process accomplishes blood circulation of a patient with the help of hemodialysis or peritoneal membrane dialysis as a cleansing surface. Dialysis becomes essential in patients, dealing with decline of kidney functions to approximately 10 percent of the required dialysis.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 25, 2023

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