Kidneys are essential to our health and one of the most important organs in the body. They get rid of excess water and toxins, regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep bones strong. The kidneys are normally very efficient and it can be a long time before there are signs that something is wrong. When kidneys are damaged or lose function over time, this is known as chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Kidney disease affects over 3 million people in the UK but up to a million of these people may be undiagnosed, which is worrying as kidney disease can’t be reversed. Kidney disease has a number of causes but by far the biggest risk is from uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure, particularly if you are severely overweight or obese. Other causes include problems with the immune system, infections or it can be an inherited condition. Depending on the problem, early diagnosis and prompt treatment as well as changes in diet and lifestyle (including taking more exercise) are vital and can often help slow down or prevent any further damage. Left unchecked, however, kidney disease can progress to kidney failure, which is fatal without treatment by dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Children are also affected by kidney disease but they are more likely to experience the consequences of birth defects and inherited genetic kidney conditions.
Although anyone can develop kidney disease, there are a few things that can increase your risk:
There are several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. Some small changes in behaviour and lifestyle (including taking more exercise) can have enormous health benefits.
Much of this information is available on our World Kidney Day Flyer and Poster on the Campaign Materials page