Kidney disease is a medical condition where the kidneys are not working as they should. When this occurs over a long period of time it is known as chronic kidney disease (CKD)
In the UK it is estimated that 3 million people have moderate to severe chronic kidney disease.
People from an African and Caribbean background are 3 to 4 times more likely to have kidney disease then other ethnicities.
Untreated kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.
People who have kidney failure require dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to stay alive.
What are kidneys?
Majority of people have two kidneys, which are organs that are beans shaped. The kidneys lie either side of the ribs at the back of the body.
What do kidneys do?
The main job of the kidneys is to clean the waste products from the blood and transform it into pee (urine).
The kidneys also perform the following important jobs in the body.
- Removing excess water
- Controlling blood pressure
- Help control the making of red blood cells
- Help maintain healthy and strong bones
Signs of kidney disease
- Swollen feet or hands
- Blood in pee(urine)
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling sick or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
Kidney disease diagnosed
Blood and urine (pee) tests are used to find out if a person has kidney failure.
In a blood test the level of creatinine (a waste product in the blood) is measured. The higher the creatine level the worst the kidney function.
In a urine (pee) test a check for blood or protein in the urine is done.
The doctor will use your blood test results and your weight, gender, age and ethnic group to calculate an estimate of your kidney function. This calculation is known as eGFR or estimated glomerular filtration rate.
Treatment of kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease has no cure, but the main treatments also known as renal replacement therapy (RRT) are dialysis and transplant.
This is a procedure where waste products and excess fluid in the blood is removed.
There are two types of dialysis.
- Peritoneal dialysis
This involves removing waste from the blood using a machine.
A tube is attached to a needle in the patients arm or through a neck line ( a tube inserted into a vein in the neck) and blood passes along the needle or neck line into the machine which filters it before it is passed back into the arm along another tube.
This procedure is normally done 3 times in a week, lasting 3 to 4 hours in each session.
This procedure can also be done at home.
This involves using the lining of the patient’s abdomen to filter the blood from the body.
A soft tube called a catheter is placed in the belly by the surgeon a few weeks before treatment starts.
During peritoneal dialysis, dialysis solution (water, salt and other additives) flows from a bag through the catheter in the patient’s belly.
During the time the dialysis solution is in the body, it absorbs wastes and excess fluid from the body.
When the bag is empty the patient disconnects it and carries on normal activities.
After a few hours, the solution and the waste are drained out of the belly into the empty bag which is then safely disposed of in the sink or bath.
A kidney or renal transplant is a surgical procedure where a healthy kidney from a person(donor) is transferred into the body of a person (recipient) who has little or no kidney function.
Transplant kidney can be from a living donor or deceased donor.
It is important to state that a kidney transplant is not a cure for kidney failure.
The recipient must be on anti-rejection medications and will be regularly monitored by their consultants and must strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle.