Department of Health

Kidney disease

Kidney disease is common within Australia, with one in every three people at risk of developing it. Up to 90 per cent of kidney function can be lost before any symptoms start to develop. Once kidneys start to fail there is a build up of waste in the blood stream and your kidney starts to function less efficiently.

The most common cause of kidney failure in Australia is the one that affects the ability of the kidney filters (Glomerulonephritis).Other types of kidney disease include:

  • Polycystic kidney disease (the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys)
  • Kidney cancer, and
  • Diabetic kidney disease (onset of kidney disease as a result of diabetes).

Most risk factors for kidney disease are manageable, such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes; glucose levels
  • Excessive alcohol intake and dehydration
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Smoking, and
  • Stress.

Risk factors that are not preventable are:

  • Being of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • Being over 50 years of age, and
  • Family genetics.

Symptoms of kidney disease can develop a long time after your kidneys have started to degenerate. Such symptoms include:

  • A change in the number of times you need to pass urine and the amount which is passed
  • Blood in the urine
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Feeling sick
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the hands, face and feet, and
  • Vomiting.

Further information

For more information about kidney health please contact your doctor or Kidney Health Australia:

Phone: Kidney Information Line 1800 682 531 (freecall)