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The Most Common Kidney Problems in the Philippines

Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, MD · General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Nov 09, 2021

The Most Common Kidney Problems in the Philippines

Did you know that kidney diseases rank as the 7th leading cause of death in the country? In fact, chronic kidney disease, or CKD in the Philippines is a serious health problem.

Despite this being the case, most people are not aware of what kidney problems are, and how they can be avoided. And this lack of information contributes to the rising numbers of kidney problems such as CKD, in the Philippines.

What are the most common kidney problems in the country?

Kidney problems are a serious health concern. While they may not rank as high as heart problems in terms of mortality, having kidney damage can severely affect a person’s quality of life. And it can result in complications that affect the rest of the body.

Additionally, when it comes to the later stages of kidney diseases, undergoing dialysis is usually a part of the treatment. Dialysis is very expensive, and it can be very tiring for someone undergoing the procedure.

This is why it is important to keep yourself informed about kidney problems so that you can take steps early on to lower your risk of these illnesses.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are probably the most common kidney problem in the country. It is very likely that millions of Filipinos already have kidney stones without even knowing it.

This is due to the fact that kidney stones are grossly underdiagnosed, and not everyone in the Philippines has access to a doctor to get their symptoms looked at.

Kidney stones usually go unnoticed until it starts to cause a blockage in the kidneys. At that point, it starts to cause inflammation, which is very painful.

Over time, kidney stones can pass through the kidneys, but it is an extremely painful process since it goes out of a person’s urethra.

However, complications such as sepsis, damage to the ureter, or bacterial infection can occur if kidney stones are untreated.

Additionally, chronic kidney stones are also a risk factor for CKD, which is a much more serious health problem.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

CKD is a condition wherein a person’s kidneys gradually lose function over time. The initial symptoms of CKD are usually unnoticeable, and CKD is usually only found out during the latter stages of the disease.

If left alone, CKD can eventually cause renal failure and death. However, most stages of CKD can’t be treated, and what doctors do is treat the underlying medical condition causing CKD (such as infections, obstruction, heart disease or diabetes) to slow down its progression.

For the most part, focusing on the symptoms of CKD and a change in diet can help slow down the progression of the disease. Doctors can also prescribe medications to help protect the kidneys from underlying medical conditions and, likewise, delay the progression of CKD.

Being diagnosed with CKD can severely affect a person’s quality of life, and can also be very expensive as some patients need to undergo dialysis two to three times a week, especially during the latter stages.

This is why it is important to take steps in order to prevent CKD from happening in the first place.

CKD in the Philippines

End-Stage Renal Disease

End-stage renal disease is the final stage of CKD. The kidneys of someone with CKD have been damaged to the point that they no longer function. This means that the only options available would be to undergo constant dialysis, or undergo a kidney transplant.

Dialysis treatments, while life-saving, are also very taxing on a person’s health. Each dialysis session lasts for about 6 hours, and involves connecting a person’s vein to a dialysis machine in order to filter their blood.

For people with end-stage renal disease, dialysis must be done at least three times a week in order to ensure that no toxins start to build up in their blood. They also have a more restrictive diet, since the food they eat can have a big impact on their health.

Dialysis vs Kidney Transplant

In some cases, dialysis is not enough for people with end-stage renal disease. Not only does it affect their quality of life, but dialysis can also be very expensive. This is why some people opt to have a kidney transplant instead.

However, having a kidney transplant is not without its problems as well. First off, the patient needs to find a suitable donor that has a healthy kidney that they can donate.

Usually donors are not always available, so patients need to be put on a waitlist, and must undergo dialysis sessions in the meantime. Once a suitable donor has been found, the patient’s body needs to be healthy enough to undergo the transplant surgery.

Lastly, someone with a transplanted kidney needs to take medication to prevent rejection of the kidney. This type of medication needs to be taken for life, or else their body might reject the kidney.

There is also the possibility of the kidney being rejected outright, which means that the patient needs to look for another donor.

CKD in the Philippines

In the Philippines, CKD is a serious concern. The number of Filipinos diagnosed with CKD is slowly rising, and not all of them can avail of treatment.

Right now, more than 70,000 Filipinos are undergoing dialysis, with many more unable to do so. When it comes to kidney transplants, thousands are on the wait list. And yet only about 400 transplants are done each year.

The best thing that you can do for your kidneys would be to stay healthy. Hypertension and  diabetes are two of the biggest risk factors when it comes to CKD.

So by taking steps to prevent these conditions, you are also lowering your risk for kidney disease.

Learn more about urological health, here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Elfred Landas, MD

General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Nov 09, 2021

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