Lachlan Cornell

Most us know we should live a healthy lifestyle – exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, get enough rest, be social and so on. However, sometimes we don’t grasp just how important all these things are. This is especially true when talking about silent diseases such as chronic kidney disease.

Known as a ‘silent disease’ – as there are often no symptoms and the kidney/s can lose up to 90% of their function before nay symptoms appear – chronic kidney disease is in some way associated with around 17% (1.7million) of all hospitalisations in Australia.

The disease is more prevalent than many people think. Back in 2014, one in nine deaths had chronic kidney disease as an underlying factor and/or associated cause of death. Despite this, less than 10% are aware that they have the condition* (*Australian Institute of Health & Welfare), this means 1.5 million Aussies are unaware of any indicators of the disease.

What do our kidneys do?

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia George Tambassis said the kidneys were amazing organs and people generally should do a lot more to look after them.

“They are a very sophisticated and efficient waste disposal systems which sort the body’s waste, 24/7, while also cleaning our blood,” Mr Tambassis said.

“We are born with two kidneys, each one about the size of an adult fist, bean-shaped and weighing about 150 grams. They are located at both sides of the backbone, just under the rib cage or above the small of the back, and are protected by a large padding of fat, the lower ribs and several muscles.

“Our blood supply circulates through the kidneys about 12 times every hour. Each day our kidneys process about 200 litres of blood. The kidneys make urine from excess fluid and filter unwanted chemicals or waste in our blood.

What you can do to protect your kidneys

Kidney Health Australia provides a number of key recommendations to reduce your chance of getting chronic kidney disease and to aid those who may already have it.

– Get your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor

– If you have diabetes, make sure you monitor your blood glucose levels

– Maintain an active, healthy lifestyle

– Don’s smoke

– Eat a balanced diet

– Exercise regularly

– Reduce alcohol

– Drink plenty of water

– Maintain a healthy weight

Watch out for these symptoms

Experts say, if chronic kidney disease is detected early enough, the otherwise inevitable deterioration of the kidney function could be reduced by 50% and may even be reversible.

– High blood pressure

– Changes in the amount & number of times urine is passed

– Changes in the appearance of your urine

– Blood in your urine

– Puffiness in your legs, ankles or around your eyes

– Tiredness & nausea

Lachlan Cornell
Freelance Writer