Kidney diseases are characterised by damage to the kidneys. As a consequence, the kidneys are not able to do their job properly – which is to maintain the balance of essential body function by filtering the blood, regulating water and eliminating waste products through urine.
The damage can be sudden (acute kidney disease or injury) or can happen slowly, over a longer period of time (chronic kidney disease). This damage leads to waste building up in the body, and several other health problems. Kidney diseases are often progressive, meaning that they get worse over time.
The damage to the kidneys causes scars (fibrosis) and is permanent and irreversible. If this damage is prolonged, this may lead to kidney failure. In that case, patients will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain their health. Early diagnosis is critical. The sooner patients know that they have kidney disease, the sooner they can make changes to protect their kidneys and their health.