Kidney Health Week

ADVICE: Dr Richard Phoon said if more people can understand the symptoms and causes of kidney disease, it will mean more cases are detected early and managed.

ADVICE: Dr Richard Phoon said if more people can understand the symptoms and causes of kidney disease, it will mean more cases are detected early and managed.

Carl Schmidt was born into the world with polycystic kidney disease (PKD); a genetic disorder in which clusters of cysts develop in the kidneys.

The Kellyville resident said the condition has reduced the function of his kidneys over the years.

“I was born with it and over time it’s taken its toll. I’m at about 10 per cent kidney function,” he said.

“With kidney disorders, there are hardly any symptoms until the kidney is about to go...it’s important for people to make themselves aware of kidney diseases out there for preventative reasons.”

Kidney disease kills more people each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer or even road traffic accidents, according to Kidney Health Australia (KHA).

One in 10 Australians have indicators of chronic kidney disease, yet less than 10 per cent of those know they have the condition.

Chronic kidney disease is often called a ‘silent disease’ as there are frequently no warning signs, and it can be common for people to lose up to 90 per cent of their kidney function before experiencing any symptoms.

Dr Richard Phoon, senior staff specialist in nephrology at Westmead Hospital, said due to one third of Australians being at increased risk of developing kidney disease, he hopes people take action to protect their kidney health and clearly identify the symptoms.

“The symptoms and causes of kidney disease are often not appreciated in the general community which presents a significant challenge in early detection of the disease,” he said.

“If detected early, the otherwise inevitable deterioration in kidney function and associated increased risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent and may even be reversible.”

Not-profit health fund, HCF, is supporting Kidney Health Australia to call on locals to better understand the condition so that they can act early.

HCF provides a free support service to help eligible members manage their chronic conditions through the My Health Guardian chronic conditions program.

Tips for preventing kidney disease:

  1. Know the risk factors: Diabetes, high blood pressure, age over 60 years, smoking, obesity and family history are just some of the risk factors to be aware of.
  2. Look out for symptoms: Kidney disease often has no warning symptoms, however there are signs which may indicate reduced kidney function, including changes in the amount or appearance of your urine (e.g. frothy urine), blood in your urine, muscle cramps, tiredness, puffiness in your legs, ankles or around your eyes, appetite loss and headaches.
  3. Complete KHA’s quick online test to identify your kidney disease risk.
  4. Speak to your doctor about a kidney health check.