Study shows most common symptoms reported by people with kidney disease

Leicester researchers develop Kidney Symptom Questionnaire which will be used by healthcare professionals across UK

A team of researchers from Leicester has developed an innovative questionnaire which helps to shed light on the most common symptoms reported by people suffering from kidney disease.

The Kidney Symptom Questionnaire, developed by the Leicester Kidney Lifestyle Team at the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals, measures the frequency and importance of the most common symptoms reported by people with kidney disease who do not need dialysis or a transplant.

The questionnaire and the research involved in developing it has been highlighted in a paper published in the Journal of Renal Care.

The top 13 symptoms chosen by kidney patients - who are not on dialysis or transplanted - as the most important to them are:

  1. Excessive tiredness
  2. Needing to urinate often
  3. Sleep disturbance
  4. Muscle cramps and stiffness
  5. Loss of muscle strength/weakness
  6. Pain in bones and joints
  7. Feeling cold
  8. Itching
  9. Shortness of breath
  10. Poor concentration
  11. Restless legs
  12. Impotence/loss of libido
  13. Poor appetite

Professor Alice Smith, Honorary Professor (Lifestyle Medicine) at the University and Senior NHS Researcher and Team Leader, Leicester Kidney Exercise Team, at Leicester's Hospitals, said: "Chronic kidney disease is a long term condition affecting up to 5 million people in the UK. About 10% of these have total kidney failure and need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant. However, the remainder live with kidney function that is lower than normal and causes a range of troublesome symptoms.

“Feeling tired and needing to urinate often were the most important symptoms, followed by difficulty sleeping, muscle weakness, cramps and stiffness, pain in the bones and joints, and feeling cold. Patients reporting more symptoms or frequent symptoms had lower quality of life scores, showing that measuring and managing symptoms is important for the wellbeing of people with kidney disease.”

Research by Leicester Kidney Lifestyle team is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University.