Kidney disease often goes undetected in the general population, but children and adolescents are at an even greater risk due to the nature of the causes of the diseases and the ambiguity of the symptoms. In adults, 90% of cases are related to glomerular-based renal disease caused by diabetes, hypertension and glomerulonephritis, which cues physicians to suspect kidney disease. In children, 70% of CKD is associated with tubulointerstitial disease and lack the obvious symptoms such as hematuria (red blood cells in the urine), hypertension (high blood pressure) or edema (swelling). Adding to this difficulty, children might not be aware of some of the changes that are impacting their body and will not always let their parents know of potential issues.

A potential indicator of pediatric kidney disease is family history of kidney disease. A genetic-related disease is much more common in children than in adults. Decreased amniotic fluid in a pregnant woman is a common symptom that the baby may have polycystic kidney disease. If there is family history of kidney disease, it is important to let the pediatrician/family doctor know about the genetic conditions.

Common Symptoms for Children

  • Swelling (even mild) of the hands and feet and/or puffiness around the eyes caused by excess fluid build-up, to the point where the child’s ability to move around normally is compromised

  • After initial swelling, socks or a belt can leave an indentation in the skin that will persist

  • Lack of or decrease in appetite (in children with ESRD it is especially important to keep their appetite up because transplant eligibility is based partially on growth)

  • Decreased or increased frequency of urination

  • Children who can normally use the toilet without assistance may suddenly begin to wet the bed at night

  • Long-lasting changes in the color of the urine such as unusually dark or red, which can indicate blood, and changes in appearance of urine such as extra foam that can indicate protein

  • Headaches resulting from high blood pressure

  • Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite

  • Stunted or poor growth as compared to similar age group peers

  • Difficulty concentrating and poor school performance

Looking at the list of common symptoms it is easy to see how CKD can go undiagnosed. Parents may want to keep a list of the symptoms the child has as well as how often they happen and how long they last. Parents can encourage their child to talk to them when they don’t feel well. Parents can then follow up with the pediatrician or primary care physician.

Related Information

New Resources for Teens

March 2nd, 2020|Categories: Additional Resources, Diagnosis of Kidney Disease, eNews, Fact Sheet, Home Hemodialysis, Humor and Laughter, In-Center Hemodialysis, Kidney Transplant, Lifestyle, Medication, Nutrition, Pediatric Kidney Disease, Peritoneal Dialysis, Stress Management, Support, Symptoms|Tags: |

These booklets were developed for tweens and teens who learn their kidneys are not working and they will need dialysis or a transplant. The booklets provide a brief overview of coping with kidney disease, being [...]

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