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Ladies, let’s talk kidney health


An illustration of a woman who is sitting away from us, touching her lower back where her kidneys are.  The ext on the timage says " Kidneys & Women's Health: Include, Value, Empower. 8th March 2018"

Today is world kidney day and also international women’s day. To embrace today we want to talk about Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) and why you should know about it.

Did you know women are chronic kidney disease affects more women than men, and there is no cure?

An estimated 60,000 people in the UK die prematurely due to kidney disease and right now, around 64,000 people in the UK are being treated for kidney failure.
Women with CKD also face additional risks in pregnancy too, but planning and careful monitoring the majority have successful pregnancies, even on dialysis.

How can this be caused?

There are a variety of factors that can cause and/or increase risk of CKD. The list below shows a few of these:

  • High blood pressure - Continuous high blood pressure can put a strain on the small blood vessels in the kidneys and stop the kidneys working properly.
  • Diabetes - too much glucose in the blood can damage the tiny filters in the kidneys.
  • High cholesterol - This can cause a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels supplying the kidneys, which can make it harder for them to work properly.
  • Kidney infections - Bacteria can enter through the urinary tract and multiply and travel to the kidneys. Bacteria from elsewhere in the body can spread through the bloodstream to the kidneys.
  • Kidney inflammation - An inflammatory disease such as lupus nephritis can cause the immune system to attack the kidneys.
  • Polycystic kidney disease - An inherited condition where growths called cysts develop in the kidneys.
  • Blockages in the flow of urine - These could be due to recurrent kidney stones, or an enlarged prostate.
  • Long-term, regular use of certain medicines - Medicines include lithium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


What symptoms should you look out for?

There are usually no symptoms of kidney disease in the early stages; it may only be picked up if blood or urine tests are carried out for another reason.
At the advanced stages, symptoms can include tiredness, swollen ankles, swollen feet or hands, shortness of breath, feeling sick or blood in your urine.
If you have persistent or worrying symptoms that you think could be caused by kidney disease, please see your GP.

What Can Be Done to Help and Prevent?

CKD can be diagnosed using blood and urine tests. These tests look for high levels of certain substances in the blood and urine and can find signs that your kidneys are not working properly.
If you are at high risk of developing kidney disease you are advised to have regular tests to check for CKD. The results of the blood and urine tests will indicate the stage of the kidney disease. A high number indicates the severity of damage to the kidneys.

Most people with CKD can control their condition with the help of medication, lifestyle changes and regular check-ups. In some cases of severe CKD two further treatments are available:

  • Dialysis – treatment to replicate some of the kidney’s functions
  • Kidney transplant

If you would like to see where we got this information and more, check out World Kidney Day (UK) and Kidney Care UK.

If you have experiences of NHS services, please share them with us – or if you need to find local services and support we can help. Click ‘share your views’, email: info@healthwatchkent.co.uk, freephone: 0808 801 0102 or text: 07525 861 639.

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