World Kidney Day: Know the importance of kidneys to overall health

World Kidney Day is a worldwide campaign that is observed every year on the second Thursday of March to raise awareness of the importance of kidneys to our overall health, and to reduce the impact of kidney disease and related problems across the world

The theme for 2023 is "Kidney Health for All – Preparing for the unexpected, supporting the vulnerable". Photo:

World Kidney Day is a worldwide health awareness campaign that is observed every year on the second Thursday of March. It is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health, and to reduce the impact of kidney disease and related problems across the world.

This campaign creates awareness about preventive behaviors, awareness about risk factors, and awareness about how to live with a kidney disease.

World Kidney Day started in 2006, and the campaign highlights a particular theme every year.

The theme for 2023 is “Kidney Health for All – Preparing for the unexpected, supporting the vulnerable”, according to worldkidneyday website.


This year’s campaign will focus on raising awareness about disastrous events and their impact on people living with kidney disease whose access to diagnostic services, treatment, and care is affected.

Know your kidneys

The kidneys are complicated and amazing organs, like most of the organs in our body, that do many essential tasks to keep us healthy. Their main job is to remove toxins and excess water from our blood. They also help to control our blood pressure, to produce red blood cells, and to keep our bones healthy.

Also read: Kidney Cancer: One among top 10 prevalent cancers

Each kidney is roughly the size of our fist, and are located beneath the rib cage.

Our kidneys control blood stream levels of many minerals and molecules including sodium and potassium, and help to control blood acidity. They carefully control the salt and water in our body so that our blood pressure remains the same.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a progressive loss in the function of the kidneys over a period of time. Each kidney has about a million tiny filters called nephrons. If the nephrons are damaged, they stop working. The healthy nephrons can take on the extra work for some time. But if the damage continues, more and more nephrons shut down, leading to a stage where the nephrons that are left cannot filter our blood well enough to keep us healthy.

When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects our whole body, and can make us feel very ill. If kidney failure is not treated, it can be life-threatening.

Facts to remember about CKD

Early chronic kidney disease has no signs or symptoms, and CKD usually does not go away. It can be treated. The earlier we discover it, the better our chances of receiving effective treatment.

Blood and urine tests are used to check for kidney disease. Kidney disease can progress to kidney failure.

Between 8 and 10% of the adult population have some form of kidney damage.

Risk factors

High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease. High blood pressure causes just over a quarter of all cases of kidney failure, while diabetes has been established as the cause of around one-third of all cases.

Sometimes CKD is inherited (such as polycystic disease) or the result of longstanding blockage to the urinary system (such as enlarged prostate or kidney stones).

Some drugs can cause CKD, especially some pain-killing drugs, if taken over a long time. Doctors often cannot determine what caused the problem.

Symptoms for CKD

A person can lose up to 90 per cent of their kidney functions before experiencing any symptoms.

Most people have no symptoms until CKD is advanced. Signs of advancing CKD include swollen ankles, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, blood in the urine and foamy urine.

If CKD is detected early and managed properly, the deterioration in kidney function can be slowed or even stopped, and the risk of associated cardiovascular complications can be reduced.

Consequences of CKD

The first consequence of undetected CKD is the risk of developing progressive loss of kidney function that can lead to kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD) which means regular dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant is needed to survive.

The second consequence of CKD is that it increases the risk of premature death from associated cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes).

Treatment of CKD

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, although treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and can prevent the development of other serious conditions.

The main treatments are a proper diet and medications, and for those who reach ESRD, long-term dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation, which are called renal replacement therapies (RRT) because they attempt to “replace” the normal functioning of the kidneys.

In several cases, a kidney transplant combined with medications and a healthy diet can restore normal kidney function.

Also read: Olympian Anju says she competed, won medals for India with ‘one kidney’

Transplantation is a best-outcome option for kidney failure, and the act of organ donation is a life-saving initiative.

A kidney can come from a living relative, a living unrelated person, or from a person who has died. Only one kidney is required to survive. In general, organs from living donors function better and for longer periods of time than those from donors who are deceased.

Long-term dialysis is expensive, and even unaffordable for low and middle income groups.

What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?
Make healthy food choices. Limit your salt intake. Drink enough water.
Make physical activity part of your routine. Aim for a healthy weight.
Get enough sleep. Explore stress-reducing activities.
Stop smoking. Limit alcohol intake.

Manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Don’t overdo certain medications.

(With agency inputs)