Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the slow loss of kidney function over a period of months or even years. 

What are the main causes of kidney disease?

  1. Diabetes
  2. High blood pressure
When left uncontrolled, diabetes and high blood pressure can cause kidney disease and sometimes lead to kidney failure. Some inherited conditions like polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and autoimmune diseases like lupus can also cause kidney disease.

Other common causes:
  • Obesity
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Obstructions like kidney stones or cysts
  • Infections like strep throat or repeat urinary tract infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Drugs and toxins
  • Trauma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Preeclampsia

Who is at risk?

Chronic kidney disease can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, but people with diabetes and high blood pressure are at higher risk.  Chronic kidney disease is also more common in older individuals, those with a family history of kidney disease and Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Alaska natives.

How do I get checked for kidney disease?

Your doctor can perform a simple blood and urine test to check your kidneys for kidney disease.  If you do not have a doctor or don't have health insurance, you can get a free screening through our KidneyMobile®.  Check for upcoming screenings in your area here.

What are common symptoms and warning signs?

  • High blood pressure
  • Blood in the urine; urine is brownish, reddish in color
  • Protein in urine; abnormal smell or odor; bubbles in the urine
  • Frequent need to urinate, particularly at night
  • Difficult, painful or burning urination
  • Puffiness around the eyes, especially in the morning
  • Swelling of hands, feet or ankles
  • Feeling tired
  • Having trouble thinking clearly
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Poor appetite
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps at night
  • A creatinine blood test result greater than 1.4 for men and greater than 1.2 for women
  • A blood urea nitrogen (BUN) blood test outside the normal range
  • An estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) less than 60
  • Uremia, the accumulation of urea and other wastes in the blood

How is kidney disease diagnosed?

CKD is diagnosed by a doctor running a series of blood tests that measure kidney function.  Those include estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), serum creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen (BUN).

Need help understanding your lab results? Learn More

What are the stages of CKD?


How is kidney failure treated?

A person with end-stage renal disease, has three options:

  1. Go on dialysis
  2. Get a kidney transplant
  3. Choose no treatment*

*Patients have the right to decide not to start dialysis or refuse treatments.  Before considering this option, patients should discuss it carefully with their doctors and loved ones.  When patients decide not to start treatment, or discontinue dialysis, the patient or the person designated to make medical decisions may want to make sure the following items are in order: a will and a signed advance directive (living will, durable health care power of attorney or health care proxy) that complies with state law.