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Why does Kidney Disease Cause Weight Gain?

    Guest Blog by Dr. Nasim Musa Porosh (Consultant Nephrologist)


    Kidney disease does not just affect the kidneys, it affects the whole body. In the early stages, it can cause weight loss, while in the later stages it can cause weight gain. These variations are the result of different aspects of kidney disease as it progresses. Here is some information to help you understand the issue of kidney disease and weight gain,


    The primary task of the kidneys is to maintain the fluid balance in the body. They accomplish this task through increasing or decreasing the amount of fluid excreted in the urine. 


    Electrolytes (minerals with an electrical charge) like sodium and potassium are an important component of fluid management. When you eat or drink liquids, the fluid eventually makes its way to the kidneys. 

    anatomy of kidney showing tubiles neohrons and collecting ducts

    A complex mechanism of fluid and electrolyte transfers, mediated by hormones and other chemicals, results in the movement of fluid into the kidneys and bladder, from which the urine is excreted.

    Kidney disease damages these mechanisms.


    Early Kidney Disease causing Initial Weight Loss


    In the early to middle stages of kidney disease, people often lose body weight. This occurs because the disease causes loss of appetite. Appetite regulation is very complex, but your appetite is affected by chemical compounds in the blood that affect the brain. 

    sad woman female middle aged woman sitting in hospital bed complaining of weakness and anorexia from kidney failure

    People with kidney disease begin to build up compounds that suppress their appetite. These changes can also alter your sense of taste. Many people begin to avoid protein foods like meat, which can result in muscle wasting. All of these changes can result in weight loss (both fat and muscle).



    Late Stage Kidney Disease (Kidney Failure) leading to Excess Weight Gain


    Untreated kidney disease will usually progress to complete kidney failure. The kidneys simply stop functioning or function so poorly that they cannot keep with the work of fluid management. Fluid builds up in the tissues, causing swelling and weight gain. 


    It is important to recognize that this is water weight, not fat or muscle. 

    In fact, many people with severe kidney disease or kidney failure are actually undernourished. The excess swelling can make it difficult to breathe and increase your blood pressure.


    icu patient receiving oxygen treatment for respiratory failure

    Kidney Dialysis & Weight Gain


    Dialysis is a medical treatment that takes over the function of the kidneys. One of its primary objectives is to remove excess fluid. You may hear your doctor talk about “dry weight” and “fluid weight.” The first is what your weight is when your blood pressure is under control and there is no excess fluid in your body. Fluid weight is the weight you gain from fluid and foods in the intervals between dialysis treatment.


    To help manage fluid weight, you must follow a strict diet with limited sodium and usually need to restrict your fluid intake as well. After a successful dialysis treatment, your weight will decrease.


    This is why you are always weighed before and after a dialysis treatment. Weight is an important component of dialysis and kidney disease management. 



    Reach out to VIOS

    For further discussion on what to expect as you or your family member undergoes the complex journey in kidney dialysis, have a chat with our online and on-call nephrologists.

    At VIOS, we have a team of dedicated specialists who can guide you to a better way of living.

    Take all the time you need, to make your choice


    1. Mushfiqur Rahman

      I knew many reasons of weight gain, but I didn’t think for a second that, kidney disease can cause weight gain. One of my relatives was going through kidney dialysis and he was gaining weight day by day. Now going throuh your blog, I can certainly explain him why he went through the changes.

    2. Khondokar

      It’s really surprising how kidney diseases affects our body. I have seen some people gain weight after kidney diseases or surgeries. Never got around to look into it. In my opinion, people should try to learn about their diseases more because someone who is unaware of such conditions might panic due to weight gain and other side effects

      • vioswp

        Thank you for sharing your views. Educating the public is an important step to better healthcare for the future.

    3. Erlinda

      Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the site is really good.

    4. Monte

      Hey! I know this is kinda off topic however ,
      I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa?
      My blog covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and
      I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free
      to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing
      from you! Excellent blog by the way!


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