What Is Kidney Disease?

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

Healthy kidneys function to remove extra water and wastes, help control blood pressure, keep body chemicals in balance, keep bones strong, tell your body to make red blood cells and help children grow normally. CKD occurs when kidneys are no longer able to clean toxins and waste product from the blood and perform their functions to full capacity. This can happen all of a sudden or over time.

One of the first things that you should know is that kidney disease has stages. Knowing your chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage is important for determining your treatment. CKD has five stages, ranging from nearly normal kidney function (stage 1) to kidney failure or end stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires dialysis or a transplant (stage 5). At stage 5, kidneys function below 10–15 percent of their normal capacity. Understanding what stage you are in will help you learn how to appropriately manage your kidney disease. Learn more about the stages of CKD here.

In most cases, ESRD (stage 5) occurs after years of living with kidney disease. Less common is acute kidney failure, which is a sudden compromise of kidney function. Whichever the case may be, when you are diagnosed with ESRD it’s necessary to receive dialysis or a transplant to remain alive. DaVita offers several treatment options that can suit your lifestyle.

There are various options to treat ESRD (stage 5). The most common treatment is dialysis. If you and your nephrologist agree on a kidney transplant as a treatment option, you might require dialysis while waiting for the right kidney donation.

Understanding Your Kidneys

Understanding how kidneys work is the first step in taking control of your health. Following a suitable diet for your kidneys, not smoking, and managing diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and other health conditions may help your kidneys function better and longer, even when you have kidney disease. Your kidneys play a very important role in regulating your overall health. They make up your body’s filtration system, cleaning waste and eliminating excess fluids from your body as well as producing a series of chemical substances that are necessary for your body to function.

Could You or Someone You Care About Be at Risk for CKD?

Risk factors include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Age of 55 or greater

If you may be at risk for kidney disease, consider scheduling a kidney screening with your general practitioner as part of your next checkup.

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