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Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition where your kidneys are damaged and aren’t working how they are meant to.

Over time, this can lead to up to a build up of waste in your blood, which makes you feel sick. It is considered “chronic” if the damage occurs over time.


  • About 13 percent of U.S. adults have CKD.

  • The leading causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure.

  • CKD progresses in stages and, if untreated, can lead to complete loss of kidney function.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?  


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) describes abnormal kidney function and/or structure. Depending on the function it is divided into five stages (I-V). Each stage has its own challenges. Patient’s with Stages 3-5(<60% kidney function) should be referred to a kidney specialist (Nephrologist) as numerous studies have shown better outcomes the earlier they are referred.

Kidney function is easily measured by a blood test called creatinine.

Hundreds of different conditions can injure the kidney, including high blood pressure and diabetes most commonly. Your kidney specialist will help you discover the cause and treat it if possible. Dietary changes and limitations are patient specific and should be decided with your specialist.

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)  


Our kidneys are fairly resilient, leading to some early stages of kidney disease experiencing no symptoms at all.
If your kidneys are starting to fail or show damage, you may notice one of the following symptoms:


  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Fluid retention issues
  • Headaches
  • Increased urination or not enough urination
  • Loss of Energy
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Swelling, especially in the feet or legs

When to See A Doctor 


Early detection is key when it comes to CKD, as it can lead to keeping your kidneys healthier for longer. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is probably time to make schedule an appointment.

What to Expect From Treatment  


There is strong evidence that appropriate treatment can prevent or delay the progression of CKD depending on the cause. Early treatment can also reduce or prevent the development of complications such as requiring dialysis or developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

When symptoms are severe enough, they can be treated only by dialysis and transplantation (end-stage kidney disease).

It is important to see a kidney specialist long before reaching this phase to try and slow or prevent reduction in kidney function to end-stage. Your primary care doctor will be monitoring your kidney function with lab tests, depending on your risks and age, and would be able to review those results with you.


Chronic Kidney Disease: A Guide for Patients

Download from National Kidney Foundation

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