The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the back of the abdomen. Each kidney is about four or five inches long, about the size of a fist.
The kidneys' main function is to filter the blood. All the blood in our bodies passes through them several times a day. The kidneys remove waste, control the body's fluid balance, and regulate the balance of electrolytes.
Kidney disease usually has no symptoms until your kidneys have deteriorated to working at just 15% of their normal function. Experts suspect that up to two thirds of people with kidney disease (as many as one in 15 adults) are unaware that they have this common condition.
The chances of developing kidney disease increase as you age. If you are a male, black or south Asian you are also more likely to develop kidney disease.
How to keep your kidneys healthy
Although early kidney disease displays no symptoms, it is easy for doctors to detect. A routine blood test can check whether your kidneys are working properly. If the blood test is abnormal, a follow-up urine test can help to show why your kidneys are not working properly.
The government recommends that everyone at a high risk for kidney disease takes a blood test every year. This will mean that more people with kidney disease will be identified when the disease is still at an early stage. This is important because earlier diagnosis of advanced kidney disease improves the success rate of dialysis and transplant. Early detection and treatment of kidney disease lessens the chance of it leading to heart disease. Kidney disease is common and it is affecting more and more people. The number of people receiving dialysis or a transplant for kidney failure in England is expected to rise by 50% in the next 10 years.