Every healthy person has two kidneys located in their abdomen, just below the ribcage. Each kidney is roughly the size of a fist. The primary function of your kidneys is to remove toxins and excess water from your blood. Secondary functions include helping to control blood pressure, producing red blood cells and keeping bones healthy.
- Make urine
- Remove wastes and extra fluid from your blood
- Control your body’s chemical balance
- Help control your blood pressure
- Help keep your bones healthy
- Help you make red blood cells
Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). The global burden of CKD is increasing, and is projected to become the 5th most common cause of years of life lost globally by 2040.
Crucially, kidney disease can be prevented and progression to end-stage kidney disease can be delayed with appropriate access to basic diagnostics and early treatment. However, while national policies and strategies for NCDs in general are present in many countries, specific policies directed toward education and awareness about kidney disease as well as CKD screening, management and treatment are often lacking. There is a need to increase the awareness of the importance of preventive measures throughout populations, professionals and policy makers.
The early stages of kidney disease often have no signs or symptoms. For this reason it can be very difficult to accurately diagnose kidney disorders before they reach an advanced stage. A person can lose up to 90 percent of their kidney function before experiencing any signs. Many of the signs and symptoms below may not be obviously associated with CKD, but it is important that people who suffer regularly from these symptoms consult their doctor in order to have a kidney test.
- Around 10 percent of the world’s population is affected by chronic kidney disease.
- It is estimated that the disease affects 13 percent of Qatar’s population.
- Diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of kidney disorders in Qatar.
- Kidney disease can affect people of all ages and races.
- The early stages of kidney disease display very few, or no, symptoms.
Common kidney disease symptoms:
- Weight loss and poor appetite
- Swollen ankles, feet or hands
- Shortness of breath
- Blood or protein in your urine (protein in your urine is not something you will notice as it can only be detected during a urine test)
- An increased need to urinate, particularly at night
- Itchy skin
- Muscle cramps
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Chronic Kidney Disease:
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition caused by the inability of the kidneys to function effectively.
Early chronic kidney disease often has no signs or symptoms. It is therefore important for people to have a simple test to detect CKD.
Types of CKD tests:
- Urine test to check if there is any protein in the urine
- Blood test to measure level of creatine in the blood
Risk factors for CKD:
There are many risk factors contributing to the development of kidney disorders. It is important that people are aware of these risk factors and take steps to prevent them, where possible.
Preventable risk factors:
- High blood pressure (major risk factor)
- Diabetes (major risk factor)
- Excess body fat
Non-preventable risk factors:
- Family history of CKD
- Being over 50 years old
- You are of African, Hispanic, Aboriginal or Asian origin
Kidney Disease and Children: Kidney disease in children can be caused by a number of issues:
- Birth defects
- Hereditary diseases
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary tract obstruction or reflux
As with kidney disease in adults, the signs and symptoms can be difficult to detect with children. This means that it is important for parents to seek medical advice immediately if they suspect their child may be suffering from ill health.
If a child is diagnosed with kidney disease, the treatment they are given will depend on the cause of the illness. For example, children with kidney disease caused by high blood pressure may be prescribed medication to lower blood pressure and relive the kidneys. However, if the child’s condition is severe, leading to kidney failure, they must be given treatment options that fully replace the work of the kidneys. Options for this are dialysis and transplantation.
Maintaining Healthy Kidneys: The international World Kidney Day committee has published its ‘8 Golden Rules’ to keep your kidneys healthy.
Prevention: 8 Golden Rules
- Keep fit and active: Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Keep regular control of your blood sugar level: About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.
- Monitor your blood pressure: Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.
- Eat healthy and keep your weight in check: This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Maintain a healthy fluid intake: Although clinical studies have not reached an agreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water per day.
- Do not smoke: Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.
- Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis: Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.
- Get your kidney function checked by your doctor if you have one or more of the 'high risk' factors.
- You have diabetes
- You have hypertension
- You are obese
- One of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
- You are of African, Hispanic, Aboriginal or Asian origin