Introduction

Renal disease is the term used to describe the various conditions that affect kidney function. 

Kidneys are very important and their main functions are to:

  • balance water in your body
  • regulate your blood pressure
  • clean your blood by filtering waste and toxins
  • activate vitamin D
  • produce an important hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) that prompts the bone marrow to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.

Kidney disease is called the 'silent disease' as many people are not aware of symptoms, which include:

  • tiredness
  • itching
  • high blood pressure
  • headaches
  • changes in urine - such as frothy or blood present, or sometimes reduced urination
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • metallic taste in your mouth
  • nausea and vomiting
  • puffiness in feet, hands or face.

You may not know your kidneys are sick. There are various stages of kidney disease and these are determined by a blood test. 

There are dietary changes and medicine that can slow progress to the 'end stage' of kidney disease. Your kidney doctor will discuss these options with you.

Once the kidneys are so sick they don't work anymore, you will need to start renal or kidney replacement treatment.

Kidney disease and diet

Diet and exercise play an important role in keeping healthy and feeling well when you have kidney disease.

If you have kidney disease you will be told about dietary changes by a renal dietitian. 

The dietitian will look at your protein, sodium (salt), potassium, phosphate and fluid intake. They will recommend changes and you will have to monitor these in your diet. 

Treatments in the NT

The following treatments are available for kidney disease in the NT:

  • acute in centre haemodialysis
  • maintenance haemodialysis in a satellite centre
  • home haemodialysis
  • peritoneal dialysis
  • renal transplantation
  • remote nurse assisted haemodialysis
  • renal supportive care.

More reading

Go to the Kidney Health Australia website for more information

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Last updated: 28 November 2017