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What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that the kidneys are damaged. When the kidneys are damaged, fluid can build up in your blood. Your kidneys might also not produce all the hormones they should. With chronic kidney disease, the damage to the kidneys slowly gets worse over time.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition that damages your kidneys. It decreases your kidneys’ ability to filter your blood and keep you healthy. The two main causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high, causing damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, eyes and nerves. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If uncontrolled, or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of CKD, heart attacks and strokes. CKD can also cause high blood pressure. Many other conditions can harm the kidneys. These include:

  • heart and blood vessel disease
  • glomerulonephritis, a disease that causes inflammation in the kidneys
  • inherited diseases, like polycystic kidney disease, which causes cysts to form in the kidneys

If CKD gets worse, waste products and fluid may build to high levels in your blood and make you feel sick. You may experience other problems like high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage. Anemia means there is a short supply of red blood cells in the body, which can make you feel tired and have little energy. CKD also increases your risk of worsening heart and blood vessel disease. CKD may progress slowly over a long time. In fact, many people don’t even know they have kidney disease until it is severe. If it is found and treated early, CKD may often be slowed or stopped. If it keeps getting worse, however, it may lead to kidney failure. This means your kidneys no longer work well enough to keep you alive, and you need a treatment like dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.