Your kidneys have a vital role in filtering your blood to remove waste and extra fluid from your body. They also help make red blood cells, vitamin D, and hormones that control your blood pressure.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) damages your kidneys and can impact many aspects of your health. It's a chronic illness, which means it gets worse over time and can be a life-long condition.
About 37 million American adults have CKD.
One cause of CKD is other illnesses. Diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure cause two-thirds of cases.
Sometimes, it's the result of an injury to the kidneys.
The following conditions are common causes of kidney damage:
While CKD can affect anyone, the risk is higher for:
If you catch the disease early, you can manage it with lifestyle changes — like a new diet — and medicine, if needed.
As the disease progresses, CKD can:
The best way to prevent CKD is to take care of your health.
Maintain a healthy weight and manage any health conditions that can increase your risk for the disease
To protect the overall health of your kidneys:
At the UPMC Kidney Disease Center:
Early stage CKD often has no symptoms.
As it gets worse, you may start to notice that you:
If you have any or all of these symptoms, speak with your PCP. They may order tests or refer you to a kidney specialist.
To diagnose CKD and check your kidney function, your doctor will have to take a few tests.
These may include blood tests to measure:
Your doctor may also:
The results of your GFR blood test helps your doctor learn the stage of your disease and make plans for treatment.
The normal GFR for healthy kidneys is at least 90 milliliters per minute. It's sometimes lower for older adults.
As your CKD gets worse, it will move through five stages:
|60 to 89 ml/min
|45 to 59 ml/min
|Mild to moderate loss.
|30 to 44 ml/min
|Moderate to severe loss.
|15 to 29 ml/min
|15 ml/min or less
|End-stage kidney disease.
There's no cure for CKD.
But at the UPMC Kidney Disease Center, the goals of treatment are to:
Your treatments may change over time if your CKD gets worse, but treatments will be lifelong. No matter the stage of your disease, you have hope at the UPMC Kidney Disease Center.
Lifestyle changes may help slow the progress of CKD.
Your doctor may ask you to:
At the UPMC Kidney Disease Center, we'll provide you with detailed guidance to help you make changes to your diet and lifestyle.
You might need medicine if you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or albumin in your urine.
Our experts in supportive care can also prescribe medicine to ease other painful symptoms.
End-stage kidney disease — having less than 15 percent of your normal function — can cause toxic waste to build up in your body. You may need to have dialysis, also called renal replacement therapy.
During dialysis, a machine cleans waste from your blood and helps control your blood pressure.
There are two common types of dialysis:
For most people, dialysis is only a short-term treatment. In time, you may need a kidney transplant.
Although dialysis treatments are lifesaving for many people, they can be hard and sometimes painful for others.
For people with advanced kidney disease who want to avoid dialysis treatment, renal supportive care can offer hope and comfort.
Supportive care aims to:
At the UPMC Kidney Disease Center, you have access to world-recognized experts through the Renal Supportive Care Clinic.
If you have CKD, a kidney transplant may be the key to getting you back to your healthy life.
We partner with the kidney transplant experts at UPMC Transplant Services to provide care before, during, and after transplant.
Living with CKD can be tough, but you have hope at the UPMC Kidney Disease Center.
Some people with CKD respond well to medical treatments and may never enter end-stage kidney disease.
Your age, overall health, and treatment outcomes all play a role in your prognosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can keep you informed and prepared.
To learn more about kidney disease: