Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, also called chronic kidney failure, describes the loss of kidney function over time. Your kidneys filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood, which are then excreted in your urine. When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes can build up in your body.

In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, you may have few signs or symptoms, such as decreased urine output, fatigue, and nausea. Chronic kidney disease may not become apparent until your kidney function is significantly impaired.

Treatment focuses on slowing the progression of the kidney damage, usually by controlling the underlying cause. Chronic kidney disease can progress to end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal without artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant.

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Take Action

If you’ve already been diagnosed with kidney disease, it’s important that you work with your doctor on a treatment plan. Use this action plan to help you get started and work with your doctor to complete it together at your next visit.

Here are some things you can do to help control kidney disease and live a healthy life.

Your doctor will work with you on a treatment plan. You may need dialysis if your kidneys no longer remove enough wastes and fluid from your blood to keep you healthy. This usually happens when you have only 10 to 15 percent of your kidney function left.

You may have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, swelling, and fatigue. However, even if you don't have these symptoms yet, you can still have a high level of wastes in your blood that may be toxic to your body. Your doctor can help you decide when you should start dialysis. There are different types of dialysis you can try, including home dialysis, and you may be able to return to work if your job requires little physical lifting or labor. If your kidney disease becomes severe, in some cases you may need a kidney transplant.

In addition to medical treatments, there are many lifestyle habits you can try to manage your symptoms, such as controlling your blood pressure, meeting your blood glucose goal if you have diabetes, integrating daily exercise (30 minutes a day of moderate activity, ideally), aiming for a healthy weight, and following a moderate, low-sodium diet.

Experiencing the symptoms of chronic kidney disease and treatments like dialysis can be difficult. You may experience side effects from dialysis such as low blood pressure, nausea, or dry or itchy skin. Talk to your doctor about coping with these side effects. We also can help you find a doctor if you’re experiencing mental health challenges because of your condition. Your doctor can recommend a mental health professional for you and may know of a local support group as well.

Along with your doctor and care team, it’s important to get support from your community, family, and friends. There are many online resources to help you as you navigate symptoms and treatments for chronic kidney disease.

Always talk with your doctor about your condition, any concerns you have, or changes to your health.

Chronic Kidney Disease

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