What Is Kidney Disease?

What is kidney disease? Well, one of the first things to know is that kidney disease comes in stages. Knowing your chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage is important for deciding 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 your stage can help you learn how to take control and slow the progression of your condition.

In most cases, kidney failure occurs after years of having CKD. Less common is acute kidney failure, a sudden stop of kidney function. Whichever the case may be, it is vital that a person with kidney failure receives dialysis or a transplant to stay alive.

You have options when it comes to treating kidney failure, the most common of which is dialysis. If you and your doctor find that a kidney transplant is the right treatment for you, you will still need dialysis while waiting for a matching kidney donor. DaVita offers several dialysis choices that can suit your lifestyle.

Understand Your Kidneys

Understanding your kidneys is the first step in taking control of your health. Following a kidney-friendly diet; managing diabetes, hypertension and other health conditions; and not smoking may help your kidneys function better and longer, even when you have kidney disease. Your kidneys — two bean-shaped organs located in your lower back — play a more important role in your overall health than you may realize. They are your body’s filtration system, cleaning waste and extra fluids from your body and producing and balancing chemicals that are necessary for your body to function. The more you know about how kidneys work, the less you'll need to ask, "what is kidney disease?"

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