Thursday 14 March is World Kidney Day and local GPs are reminding people to know their kidneys. Around 850 million people worldwide are now estimated to have kidney diseases from various causes. Chronic kidney diseases (CKD) cause at least 2.4 million deaths per year and are now the sixth fastest growing cause of death.
It is thought that between eight and ten percent of the adult population have some form of kidney damage, and every year millions die prematurely of complications related to chronic kidney diseases (CKD).
GPs in Lincolnshire are calling on people to reduce the risk factors of CKD and to understand the role and function of their kidneys.
Our kidneys make urine, remove waste and extra fluid from blood, they control blood pressure, control your body’s chemical balance, help make essential red blood cells and keep bones healthy. If more of us knew more about the role of our kidneys we might think differently about how we treat them.
Kidneys are vital to our overall health and any damage caused can be irreparable. Eat a healthy diet, avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, exercise regularly and avoid medicines that can damage the kidney. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure it is particularly important to control those conditions.
Early chronic kidney disease has no signs or symptoms. It is mainly associated with ageing with the risk increasing as people get older. It is thought that around one in five men and one in four women between the ages of 65 and 74 has some degree of CKD.
The disease does not usually cause symptoms until it is at an advanced stage and the main things to look out for are swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention), shortness of breath, nausea, blood and protein in the urine.
High blood pressure accounts for just over a quarter of all cases of kidney failure with diabetes thought to cause around a third of all cases and is the most common cause in developed countries.
People with concerns about the health of their kidneys should seek advice from their GP.
How to look after your kidneys:
- Monitor your Blood Pressure - High blood pressure accelerates kidney damage. To protect yourself from kidney disease you should also maintain a diet low in salt and saturated fats.
- Keep fit and active - This helps reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of kidney disease.
- Don't smoke - Smoking slows blood flow to the kidneys, decreasing their ability to function properly.
- Eat healthily and keep your weight in check - This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with kidney disease.
- Get your kidney function tested - If anyone in your family has suffered from kidney disease, you are diabetic or have high blood pressure, or if you are of South Asian or African-Caribbean ethnic background.
- Keep well hydrated - This helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which can significantly lower the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. (Dialysis patients however may need to restrict their fluid intake.)
Find out more on the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/keeping-your-kidneys-healthy