Each year, more than half a million Australians consult their doctors about kidney disease and urinary tract infections.
One in 3 Australian adults is at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and one in 10 has some sign of chronic kidney disease.
What is kidney disease?
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that act as your body’s waste filtration system. They filter your blood 12 times per hour. Excess water and unwanted chemicals or waste in the blood are disposed of as urine (wee).
Kidney disease is when your kidneys are damaged in some way and are not filtering your blood effectively.
Symptoms of kidney disease
Kidney disease is called a ‘silent disease’ as there are often few or no symptoms. In fact, you can lose up to 90% of your kidneys’ functionality before experiencing any symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include:
- a change in the frequency and quantity of urine you pass, especially at night (usually an increase at first)
- blood in your urine (haematuria)
- changes in the appearance of your urine
- puffiness around your legs and ankles (oedema)
- pain in your back (under the lower ribs, where the kidneys are located)
- pain or burning when you pass urine
- high blood pressure.
If your kidneys begin to fail, waste products and extra fluid build up in your blood. This, and other problems, can gradually lead to:
- tiredness and inability to concentrate
- generally feeling unwell
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- shortness of breath
- bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Risk factors for kidney disease
You are more at risk of developing chronic kidney disease if you:
- have high blood pressure
- have diabetes
- have established heart problems (heart failure or past heart attack) or have had a stroke
- are obese
- are over 60 years of age
- have a family history of kidney failure
- have a history of acute kidney injury
- are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.
Take the online kidney risk test.
Prevention of kidney disease
Medication and changes to lifestyle, along with an early referral to a kidney specialist can prevent or delay kidney failure.
Heathy lifestyle choices to keep your kidneys functioning well include:
- Eat lots of vegetables and fruit, as well as legumes (peas or beans) and grain-based food such as bread, pasta, noodles and rice
- Eat lean meat such as chicken and fish each week
- Eat only small amounts of salty or fatty food
- Drink plenty of water instead of other drinks like sugary soft drinks
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay fit. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity that increases your heart rate on five or more days of the week, including walking, lawn mowing, bike riding, swimming or gentle aerobics
- Quit smoking (our doctors in Pascoe Vale can help with this)
- Limit your alcohol to no more than two small drinks per day if you are male, or one small drink per day if you are female.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly (a range of medication is available for high blood pressure)
- Do things that make you happy, help you relax and reduce your stress levels.
Raising awareness for kidney health
14 March 2019 is World Kidney Day. It’s a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys. You can find out more information here.
8-14 April 2019 is Kidney Health Week. ‘Don’t be blind to kidney disease’ is this year’s theme. See if you’re at risk of kidney disease by taking the test.
Treatment for kidney disease
If detected early enough, the progress of kidney disease can be slowed and sometimes even prevented.
Our team of friendly doctors can help you manage kidney disease. Make a booking online or call 9304 0500 today.
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.