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Age and kidney disease

Kidney disease can affect anyone at any age. Babies can be born with kidneys that haven’t developed normally or don’t function normally.

Genetic alterations can result in kidney diseases developing during childhood or later in life. Other types of kidney disease can develop at any age. Many types of kidney disease are more frequent in older people.

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys don't work as well as they should. It's a common condition, particularly in older people.

There are various stages of CKD, ranging from mild loss of kidney function to complete kidney failure.

Early-stage kidney disease is so common amongst older people that some experts argue that it shouldn’t be considered an illness, but just part of normal ‘wear and tear’ ageing. It is certainly true that most older people with mild reduction in kidney function will never develop kidney failure, or even complications of kidney disease (like anaemia or bone disease). However, other experts argue that monitoring how well the kidneys are working helps doctors to detect progressive kidney damage, and also to avoid using treatments that might accelerate damage or cause complications.

Watch Dr Kathryn Griffith explain the link between kidney disease and age.

When to see your GP

Make an appointment to see your GP if you have any concerns about your kidneys or have any of the symptoms associated with possible kidney problems (including blood in your urine). You can find lots of helpful tips and advice about planning your visit, including what questions to ask, in our visiting your doctor section.

The need for more research

Better understanding of how kidneys develop in the unborn child could help us to work out how to prevent children being born with kidneys that haven’t developed normally. Better understanding of how ageing affects the normal kidney might help us to work out how to prevent age-related ‘wear and tear’ damage to the kidneys. We also need better tests to identify which patients with early-stage chronic kidney disease are likely to develop progressive damage, and how we can prevent it.

Join our research network

Join our Kidney Voices for Research network and get involved in the latest research into the causes and treatments of kidney disease.

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