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Kidney Diseases

Possible Kidney Malfunction

05/17/2010

Question:

My father is 74, diabetic, and takes 70-30 twice a day. He is overweight, uses a mobility chair, and has severe swelling of the legs and feet to the extent that they are creating pockets of fluid and draining. He cannot even get shoes on.  Could this be an indicator of kidney failure, and should we get him to the doctor sooner rather than later.

Answer:

The leg swelling is of great concern, especially if it has begun recently, and if it's getting worse.  The swelling could be caused by either kidney problems or by heart failure.  In either case, it's important to get it treated quickly, not just because of the kidneys or the heart, but because the swelling, especially when accompanied by skin breakdown, will make him more liable to infection in the legs -- and any infection in a diabetic is potentially a very severe problem.   

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University