Kidneys: The Facts

What do kidneys do?

  • They remove toxins, excess water and waste products.
  • Kidneys play a vital role in regulating your blood pressure.
  • They activate vitamin D to help keep your bones and muscles in good shape.
  • They’re essential for a healthy body.

Why you shouldn’t ignore your kidneys

Most of the time, kidneys work normally without any issues but sometimes they can be damaged or stop working so well. This is known as chronic kidney disease. CKD is a serious condition that affects over three million people in the UK and up to a million of these people may be undiagnosed. Find out how you can improve your kidney health

Early diagnosis and treatment, as well as changes to your diet and lifestyle, are vital and can often help slow down or prevent any further damage. However, if CKD goes undetected or is not managed well, it can progress to kidney failure, which is fatal without treatment. Patients with kidney failure will need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Some other types of kidney disease, including inherited conditions, are not preventable but can be managed.

The BIG impact on your life

Having kidney disease affects more than your physical health. It also impacts your social life, relationships and emotional wellbeing. Imagine visiting the hospital three times a week for a four-hour dialysis session – how would you fit this around work, or looking after children, or going on holiday?

Are you at risk?

Although anyone can develop kidney disease, here are some factors that can increase your risk:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and circulatory disease
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • A black, Asian or minority ethnic background could mean an increased risk of developing kidney failure more quickly.

Kidney disease and Covid-19

The global pandemic has changed kidney patients’ lives in many ways.

At increased risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, many kidney patients have been extra cautious. But many dialysis patients have no choice but to go into hospital several times a week for their life-saving treatment. Those with a kidney transplant or taking immunosuppressants still have to attend their regular medical appointments, despite being less able to fight the virus because of the medication and treatments they take.

The Kidney Charities Together group continues to support kidney patients with information and guidance: 

  • Kidney Research UK champions patient voices and research into the impacts of Covid-19. 
  • The NKF Helpline gives kidney patients expert advice on coping in difficult times, including the pandemic.
  • Kidney Care UK provides the latest Covid-19 guidance and advice. 
  • Kidney Wales helps and advises people on how to cope with everyday life during Covid-19. 
  • PKD Charity offers expert information and support for managing polycystic kidney disease. 
  • The UK Kidney Association gives HCPs Covid-19 vaccination and treatment guidance for kidney patients,