Why you need to start thinking about your kidneys.
About 1 in 10 people have some degree of chronic kidney disease. Sadly, lots of those people won’t know anything’s wrong until damage reaches an advanced stage. We’re often reminded how to maintain a healthy heart. World Kidney Day on 13th March 2014 shows us just how important it is to pay attention to our kidneys too.
Did you know your kidneys help to control your blood pressure? Keeping your kidneys in good shape can also help keep your bones healthy – among lots of other vital functions. The organisers of World Kidney Day want us to find out more about these “complicated and amazing organs” and to show us how to keep them in good working order.
Why do I need to start thinking about my kidneys?
Most of us have given thought to our weight and our cholesterol level from time to time. By contrast, when was the last time you wondered if your kidneys were in good shape? How would you even know if something might be wrong?
Our kidneys are located deep in the abdomen, beneath the rib cage. They remove waste material from the blood and produce urine. They also perform a vital role in maintaining the body’s chemical balance by checking the blood stream levels of various minerals. They regulate blood acidity and by controlling the level of salt in the blood, they also help us maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
It is when kidneys no longer work as well as they used to – either as a result of specific disease, trauma or (most often) as a result of age-related wear and tear that we really appreciate just how important they are.
What happens when things go wrong?
“A thief that works quietly at night without creating any disturbance.” That’s how Kidney Research UK describes Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD is a catchall term that refers to the majority of renal conditions. It can occur at any age, but is most common in older people – with about half of people aged 75 or over having some degree of CKD. It is slightly more common in women than men.
The older the individual, the more likely it is that he or she will have some degree of kidney disease. The level of severity varies but most cases are mild or moderate and only very rarely will CKD progress to full kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation.
People with CKD have an increased risk of developing heart disease or a stroke. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to try and identify CKD at an early stage. Not only can treatment slow down progression of the condition, it can also reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular disease.
With mild to moderate CKD, a person is unlikely to experience symptoms. Symptoms very often only become apparent once CKD has become severe. What’s more, these symptoms tend to be rather vague, such as feeling generally tired, unwell and having less energy than usual. Other symptoms can include weight loss, a poor appetite, fluid retention leading to swollen feet and ankles, puffiness around the eyes and a need to pass urine more often.
Prevention is better than cure and more needs to be done to ensure CKD is identified as early as possible. That’s the message from the organisers of World Kidney Day. This means taking steps to control high blood pressure, proper management of diabetes, cutting back on salt and ditching processed fat and sugar-rich food in favour of plenty of fruit and vegetables. It also means not smoking and maintaining a healthy fluid intake.
Not only does early diagnosis benefit the individual patient, it also helps to take pressure off doctors and hospitals at a time when the NHS is under heavy financial strain. According to a report published by NHS Kidney Care, treatment of kidney disease in England costs more than breast, lung, colon and skin cancer combined. Identifying it at an earlier stage should relieve some of that burden.
How do I know if I have a kidney problem?
Kidney Research UK advises you should see your doctor if you have any of the following signs:
- Darkness or redness in the urine
- Urine that has an offensive odour or that looks very foamy
- Any change in the amount of urine passed
- Frequent urination, sometimes with pain or burning on passing urine
- Persistent thirst
- Swelling of the legs, hands, face
- Raised or high blood pressure
- Back pain in the renal area – especially if there is a fever
- Tiredness or feeling unwell without apparent cause
- Widespread itchy skin
Certain factors can mean you are at greater risk of developing the illness. With this useful self-assessment tool from NHS Choices, you can find out whether you should have your kidney function checked.
Fortunately, it only takes a few simple steps to identify potential kidney problems. Early diagnosis and expert care in most cases means CKD can be managed successfully.
For quick access to kidney specialists and other consultant doctors working at the heart of the NHS, you may be interested in the new as.one subscription service. This consultant-led service provides members with speedy access to specialists without having to go through the GP referral process. To find out more, visit www.betterasone.co.uk .
Have you got a health question?
Silversurfers Health partner is AXA PPP healthcare. The AXA PPP healthcare's online service, "Ask the Expert", allows you to ask their team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counselors and pharmacists about any health topic.
Don't feel alone. You can ask anything about your health, any time for 24 hours a day; everyday. Please get in touch with us now.
ASK THE EXPERT
Latest posts by Sally - Silversurfer's Editor (see all)
- Pet insurance for older dogs - January 23, 2019
- Say Hello Sunshine in 2019 with Teletext Holidays - January 22, 2019
- Are You Suffering From Migraines, Bloating, Skin Issues or Fatigue? - January 22, 2019
- Freedom and confidence for colostomates - January 22, 2019
- Tennis Holidays in Italy with Tuscan Tennis Holidays - January 21, 2019
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!