Study reveals depth of ignorance on kidneys

Image of jigsaw puzzle kidneys

Most Australians have no idea about the risks of chronic kidney disease and some don’t know how many kidneys we have, Amcal data has found

That’s despite one in three Australian adults being at risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Figures from Amcal Pharmacy’s study into CKD showed that more than one in ten (13%) of those aged 18-24 admitted they have no idea how many kidneys the average person has.

A similar number (12%) were blissfully unaware that kidney failure can lead to death if left untreated.

The research also suggests that a significant proportion of the population had experienced serious symptoms of kidney disease including changes to their urine (12%), pain in their kidney area (9%) and blood in their urine (5%) – but most did not investigate the cause with their GP or pharmacist.

For many Australians, kidney health does not rank high on the list of health priorities, says Amcal. It’s often incorrectly associated with excessive alcohol consumption as the major cause (56%).

In reality, older Australians, those with a family history of kidney disease, people with diabetes, smokers, and even younger Australians who may have had an acute kidney injury are at an increased risk of developing the condition.

Kidney Health Australia CEO, Mikaela Stafrace says she was deeply concerned by the number of people neglecting the health of one of their most vital organs, despite one in ten people over the age of 18 having indicators of chronic kidney disease.

“Chronic kidney disease is often difficult to detect in the early stages. In fact, less than 10% of people with chronic kidney disease are aware they have the condition,” she says.

“It’s important that people know and understand the risk factors associated with kidney disease and that they schedule an annual kidney health check so early warning signs are not missed.

“Early detection is incredibly important as people can lose up to 90% of kidney function before symptoms arise, and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease,” Ms Stafrace says.

With more than three-quarters (77%) of Australians admitting to experiencing symptoms of kidney disease, Amcal senior pharmacist James Nevile says that it is important to take proactive measures, rather than waiting for symptoms to worsen before seeking medical advice.

“It is concerning that people are dismissing symptoms of potential illness and aren’t seeking professional help until the symptoms are very advanced,” he says.

He urged consumers with a family history of kidney disease, and those who suspect they might be at risk, to see a health professional to investigate possible symptoms.

This included using Amcal Pharmacies’ home kidney health screening check.

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