The kidneys play an important role in a person’s health. Below you will find more information on the functioning of kidneys and chronic renal failure.

Kidney function

A kidney is a bean-shaped organ, about the size of a small fist (11 cm) and weighs about 150 g. Most people have two kidneys.

Normal healthy kidneys regulate many processes in the body:

  • Remove waste products from the body
  • Remove excessive fluid
  • Keep blood pressure under control
  • Help generate red blood cells (EPO)
  • Activate vitamin D, which keeps bones healthy and strong
  • Regulate the acidity of the body
  • Regulate the composition of the salts potassium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus

When the kidneys are not working properly, a lot can go wrong in the body.

The functions of the kidneys gradually decrease:

  • They no longer filter the blood as they should, causing waste products to accumulate
  • They no longer remove excessive fluid like they should
  • Blood pressure often rises
  • You may start suffer from anaemia or osteoporosis

The most common causes of chronic kidney failure are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure and arterial decalcification
  • Chronic infections or inflammations of the urinary tract
  • Years of using painkillers
  • Congenital kidney or urinary tract abnormalities (e.g. polycystic kidneys)
  • Other causes, such as diseases of the kidney filters (glomerulonephritis),...

What are the symptoms you may have?

  • Fatigue and/or loss of strength
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Strong weight gain in a short period of time
  • Lack of appetite, bad taste in the mouth, vomiting, nausea, weight loss
  • Itching, muscular cramps
  • Urinary retention
  • High blood pressure

The deterioration of your kidney function can be counteracted by:

  • Adjusting medication
  • A diet
  • Advice to stop smoking
  • Sufficient physical activity

However, this requires regular monitoring by your GP and kidney specialist. Depending on the severity of the kidney failure (renal insufficiency), this may be annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly.

By keeping a close watch on yourself, you can significantly slow down the deterioration of your kidney function. A chronic renal failure care programme is often offered. If necessary, we also call on the services of a dietician, social nurse...

When the functioning of your kidneys is so seriously impaired, you need a treatment that takes over the functioning of your kidneys - dialysis.

A few facts about your kidneys

Swoosh element
Curved line Curved line