ChroniC kidney disease
Many of us don’t realise when our kidneys stop working properly
Our kidneys continuously filter our blood, adjusting fluid
and chemical levels, and
flushing waste products and
water out into the urine.
They also regulate blood
pressure and the production
of red blood cells, and
produce vitamin D for our
bones and teeth. CKD –
kidney function – affects
one in eight of us.
CKD sometimes follows temporary kidney failure caused, for example, by toxins, blood loss or sepsis. But it usually develops gradually, often in diabetes, raised blood pressure, obesity and/or cardiovascular (arterial)
disease, especially in people
of Asian, African or AfricanCaribbean ethnic origin.
Smoking, infections, cysts, immune system disorders, cancer and urinary blockages, as well as drugs, such as ibuprofen and lithium, can also damage our kidneys.
People who have these conditions or take these drugs should have regular blood and urine tests to spot CKD early.
CKD has no symptoms at first. It is often detected during tests for other conditions or
by finding protein or blood in your urine. But as it progresses, you may retain fluid, lose valuable nutrients, develop vitamin D deficiency and become anaemic. You’ll notice tiredness, swelling of the hands or feet, muscle cramps, breathlessness, nausea, poor appetite, weight loss, headaches, or a need to pass urine more often.
CKD and many medicines are monitored using the eGFR blood test, which calculates your kidneys’ filtration rate (efficiency). You’ll need other
tests, too, and perhaps