Chronic Kidney Disease

Article published on 31st May 2008

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Chronic kidney disease, or kidney failure as it is sometimes referred to, is a persistent and irreversible condition, and it can, if left untreated, lead to irreparable harm to body as the toxins that the kidneys normally filter out of the blood begin to build up in the body, effectively poisoning it.

Kidney failure is a critical illness generally caused by glomerulonephritis - inflammation of the kidney - and diabetes mellitus. Other causes include an immuno-disorder called ‘systemic lupus erythematosus’, as well as the development of kidney stones, cysts, high blood pressure and narcotics. Damaged kidneys can cause anaemia, which leads in turn to muscle weakness, osteomalacia (a weakening of the bones), and rickets, which also affects the bones.

Most common amongst the UK's South Asian, African and Afro-Caribbean communities, kidney failure to varying degrees of severity is thought to affect between one and four people in every thousand, with this risk rising in older people. The average age of sufferers tends to be between 75 and 78.

In the worst cases the progression of the disease cannot be halted and the kidneys give out altogether - a condition referred to as ‘Established Renal Failure’. People at this stage of the disease require either kidney transplants or regular blood filtration by a dialysis machine.

It is advisable that men and women go for kidney specific check-ups from their early sixties onwards.

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