Why does Kidney Disease Cause Weight Gain?

    Introduction to Kidney Disease


    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 by 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.


    There are many different types of kidney disease, but the two most common are chronic kidney disease (CKD) and acute kidney failure (AKF). CKD is a long-term condition that slowly gets worse over time, while AKF is sudden and often reversible damage to the kidneys.


    Kidney disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and infections. Treatment depends on the underlying cause but may include dialysis or a kidney transplant.


    Early diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease are important to prevent it from progressing to kidney failure. If you have any symptoms of kidney disease, be sure to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.


    Symptoms of Kidney Disease

    The symptoms of kidney disease can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. As the disease progresses, however, common symptoms include:

    – Fatigue

    – Weakness

    – Loss of appetite

    – Nausea and vomiting

    – Weight loss

    – Changes in urination (frequency, color, or odor)

    – Swelling in the feet and ankles

    – Pain in the back

    anatomy of kidney showing tubiles neohrons and collecting ducts

    How Does the Kidney Lose its Function?

    The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood and removing waste products from the body. When the kidneys lose their function, waste products can build up in the blood and cause serious health problems. There are several ways that the kidney can lose its function, including damage to the filters in the kidney, blockages in the urinary tract, and infections.


    Damage to the filters in the kidney can occur as a result of an injury or a health condition such as diabetes. Blockages in the urinary tract can be caused by a buildup of stones or by tumors. Infections can occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and travel up to the kidneys.

    Why Does Kidney Disease Cause Initial Weight Loss?

    One of the most common symptoms of kidney disease is weight loss. Many people who are suffering from kidney disease will experience a sudden and unexplained weight loss in the early stages of the illness. So, what is the reason for this initial weight loss?


    There are a few possible explanations for why kidney disease can cause weight loss. One is that when the kidneys are not functioning properly, they are unable to produce urine. This means that excess water and fluids build up in the body, leading to swelling and weight gain. However, as the disease progresses and the kidneys start to fail, the body starts to lose fluid and this leads to weight loss.


    Another explanation is that protein is filtered out of the blood by the malfunctioning kidneys. This can lead to a loss of muscle mass, as well as a decrease in appetite. The body then starts burning its own fat and muscle for energy, which leads to weight loss.


    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).

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

    Why Does Late-Stage Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) lead to Weight Gain?

    It is not entirely clear why late-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) leads to weight gain, but there are several possible explanations. One is that the body tries to conserve energy when the kidneys aren’t working properly, and as a result, people with CKD tend to eat less. However, because their bodies are still trying to hold on to calories, they often end up gaining weight instead.


    Another possibility is that the medications used to treat CKD can cause weight gain. For example, steroids and other drugs that are commonly prescribed to help regulate blood pressure can lead to significant weight gain in some people.


    In addition, people with CKD often have high levels of cholesterol and other fatty substances in their blood. These substances can build up in the body and lead to 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 up 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.


    Finally, people with CKD may experience fluid retention, which can also cause weight gain. Fluid retention occurs when the kidneys are not able to remove excess fluid from the body, and it can lead to swelling in the ankles, legs, and abdomen.


    icu patient receiving oxygen treatment for respiratory failure

    Managing Weight Gain While on Kidney Dialysis


    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. 


    If you have kidney disease, you may be worried about managing your weight. Kidney disease can cause fluid retention, which can lead to weight gain. Dialysis can also cause weight gain, as it removes fluids and toxins from your body but also some nutrients. However, there are things you can do to manage weight gain while on kidney dialysis.


    Talk to your doctor or dietitian about your ideal weight. They can help you create a plan to lose weight if you need to or to maintain your current weight if you are at a healthy level.


    Exercise is important for everyone, but especially for those with kidney disease. Exercise can help you lose weight, manage fluid retention, and increase muscle mass. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program, as they can help you tailor a plan that is safe for you.


    Eat a healthy diet. This includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive salt. Drink plenty of fluids, but limit yourself to no more than 2 liters per day if you are on dialysis.


    Managing weight gain while on kidney dialysis can be challenging, but it is possible with the help of your medical team and by making healthy lifestyle choices. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about creating a plan that works for you.


    Reach out to The VIOS Clinic

    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.

    Dr. Juan Jaller Char, MD is an expert Nephrologist who has helped managed countless kidney patients with their health issues.

    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!


    Submit a Comment

    Your email address will not be published.

    Share This