People in Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire would not be able to tell if they had kidney disease, according to a national survey.
87 per cent of people in the area questioned by charity Kidney Research UK said they knew nothing about the symptoms. That makes the region the third worst in the country for its knowledge of the disease.
The survey also discovered that although kidney disease can affect anyone at any age, 49 per cent think the illness poses no threat to them, while 43 per cent say they are unsure.
Just 7 per cent believe they are at risk, despite 28 per cent confirming that they suffer with one of the three leading causes of kidney disease - diabetes, high blood pressure or vascular disease.
Sandra Currie, Chief Executive of Kidney Research UK, said: "This survey highlights a deeply worrying lack of awareness in Yorkshire and Humber when it comes to kidney disease and goes some way to explain why the disease has reached epidemic proportions in the UK.
"Even people who are at significantly increased risk from the illness because of pre-existing conditions appear to be completely in the dark.
"With the number of patients who need treatment for kidney failure rising by more than four per cent each year and very limited funding available for research into new treatments, we have all the makings of a very real public health crisis."
More than three million people in the UK are at risk from chronic kidney disease (CKD), while 51,000 require some form of renal replacement therapy for kidney failure - a twenty per cent increase since 2006.
If caught early enough, the damage done by some forms of kidney disease can be slowed, stopped or even reversed. However, because it displays few symptoms, many patients go undiagnosed until their kidneys fail completely, which is why kidney disease is known as a 'silent killer'.
The NHS spends £1.45billion treating kidney disease in England alone - the equivalent of £1 in every £77 spent and more than the annual cost of breast, lung, colon and skin cancer combined.
The charity says this could be greatly reduced if the disease was identified at an earlier stage.
Kidney Research UK is rolling out a special package of diagnosis and treatment aids for doctors and nurses working in primary care to help achieve this.