Why kidneys are the hardest working organs in our bodies
Kidney Health Your kidneys are vital to your health says Dr Richard Fluck, Consultant Renal Physician at the Royal Derby Hospital and Chair of Think Kidneys. It's time we understood more about them — and took steps to look after them.
In 2014, Ipsos MORI researched the public's understanding of kidney disease and kidney health on behalf of Think Kidneys, an NHS initiative to improve the care of people at risk of, or with, acute kidney injury (AKI).
The surprising results showed people know little about what their kidneys do or how they can be damaged. For example, only 51 per cent of the population know that kidneys produce urine. Many people think the most damaging thing you can do to your kidneys is drink alcohol when, in fact, a major risk comes from smoking. And there’s a lack of awareness about the things we need to do to keep our kidneys healthy; keeping hydrated and drinking regularly, exercising, eating healthily and keeping weight down. The ‘Think Kidneys’ campaign this summer is highlighting the need to do just that – Think Kidneys.
The kidneys are the hardest working organs in our bodies. They get rid of waste products and regulate salt and water balance, and control blood pressure, produce a hormone which stops us from becoming anaemic, and keep bones healthy by activating vitamin D. They are vital to our well-being.
Sadly, as this supplement highlights, irreversible chronic kidney disease — which increases risk of heart attacks and strokes — is more common than you might think: it's estimated that one in 10 people have it. And up to 100,000 deaths a year in the UK are associated with acute kidney injury, a sudden reduction in kidney function which can result in long term kidney damage. It's thought that up to one third of those deaths are preventable.
Unfortunately, kidney disease symptoms are subtle, often not noticed until significant damage is done. That's why the kidney community has to get this message across: your kidneys are amazing and vital to your health. Look after them and they will look after you – every minute of the day. So Think Kidneys.