Kidney Disease: What you need to know


By: Kate Cottrell

Pssst…did you realize that you can have kidney disease and not even know it? Chronic kidney disease can affect anyone of any age or race; it progresses slowly over many years and it cannot be cured.1 More than one in ten Canadians (12.5%) is living with kidney disease, and most aren’t aware that they have it.2 Until it reaches advanced stages, kidney disease typically causes no symptoms. While not everyone’s kidney disease will progress to stage 5, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), those in whom it does will need dialysis or a transplant.1

Prevention begins with avoiding exposure to factors that can damage the kidneys.The good news is that kidney disease is easily detected with a simple blood or urine test.  Your doctor is more likely to test your kidney function if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, which increase risk because they can slowly damage the kidneys over many years.1 The number of Canadians being treated for kidney failure has tripled over the past 20 years,3 and many of those affected do not have risk factors for kidney disease.2  If you are concerned about your risk for kidney disease, consult your doctor or look into the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s national targeted screening program for chronic kidney disease (CKD), called “See Kidney Disease” or SeeKD.4

  • Keep diabetes, blood pressure and blood lipid (e.g. cholesterol) levels tightly controlled.1,4
  • Limit your use of over-the-counter medications, especially painkillers.4
  • Avoid exposure to toxins, pesticides and illegal drugs (such as heroin and cocaine).4
  • Maintain a healthy weight.1
  • Eat a ‘heart-healthy’ diet (limit your salt intake to 1,500 milligrams daily), and get regular physical activity.1


  1.  Keep Your Kidneys Healthy – National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP).
  2.  Arora P et al. Prevalence estimates of chronic kidney disease in Canada: results of a nationally representative survey. CMAJ 2013.
  3.  Facing the Facts 2013. National Kidney Disease Foundation of Canada.
  4.  The Kidney foundation of Canada. Early Detection and Prevention.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Related Stories


Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now