One in every three Australian adults is at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease. However, if it is detected and treated early, you can significantly increase the life of your kidneys.
Diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) are both major risk factors for kidney disease. Other risk factors include smoking, having a close relative with kidney failure, having a history of heart attack, heart failure or stroke, being obese, or being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.
How do kidneys work?
Kidneys play a major role in your general health – think of them as a sophisticated waste disposal system that helps to clean your blood. They also help to regulate your blood pressure, maintain healthy bones, and help make red blood cells.
When things go wrong
Many people with kidney disease show no signs or symptoms. If symptoms do present, they may include feeling sick, vomiting, and appetite loss. Other symptoms include changes in the amount and number of times urine is passed, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, swelling of the hands, face and feet, headaches, high blood pressure and blood in the urine. These symptoms may worsen gradually as kidney function declines.
Early detection and tests
Early detection can significantly slow the otherwise inevitable decline in kidney function by allowing timely treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or have one or more of the risk factors, ask your doctor for a kidney health check, which involves simple blood and urine tests. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor should perform this check yearly. Regular self-monitoring for early signs of kidney damage can also help to manage these conditions.
Kidney Health Australia
Kidney Health Australia offers great resources and support for kidney health. For more information phone Kidney Health Information line on 1800 454 363 or visit www.kidney.org.au
Kidney Health Australia is a national health care charity with a vision ‘to save and improve the lives of Australians affected by kidney disease’. As the national peak body, Kidney Health Australia promotes good kidney health through delivery of programs in education, advocacy, research and support.