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Risk factors

Are you at increased risk?

Around 1.7 million Australians aged 18 years and over (one in every ten adults) have signs of chronic kidney disease.

If you know the risk factors and ask your doctor for a regular Kidney Health Check, you can help detect kidney disease early and improve your outcomes.

Adult Australians are at an increased risk of chronic kidney disease if they:

  • have diabetes
  • have high blood pressure
  • have established heart problems (heart failure or heart attack) or have had a stroke
  • have a family history of kidney failure
  • are obese with a body mass index (BMI) 30 or higher
  • are a smoker
  • are 60 years or older
  • are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
  • have a history if acute kidney injury.

To find out more about these risk factors, take this simple ‘question and answer’ test: Check my kidneys.

The risk can be reduced by understanding symptoms that can indicate kidney disease. Learn about the symptoms here:

Symptoms of kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is called a ‘silent disease’ as there are often no warning signs. It is not uncommon for people to lose up to 90 per cent of their kidney function before getting any symptoms.

There are, however, some signs that may indicate reduced kidney function and it’s important to take note of them. These can include:

  • high blood pressure
  • changes in the amount and number of times urine is passed
  • changes in the appearance of your urine (for example, frothy or foaming urine)
  • blood in your urine
  • puffiness (in your legs, ankles or around your eyes)
  • pain in your kidney area
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches
  • lack of concentration
  • itching
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth
  • muscle cramps
  • pins and needles in your fingers or toes.

These symptoms are very general and may be caused by other illnesses. However, if they are related to kidney disease they may gradually worsen as kidney function declines.

If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms, or think you are at increased risk of kidney disease, ask your doctor for a Kidney Health Check.

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