Chronic Kidney Disease

Kidneys are very important organs that have many jobs. They not only remove extra fluids and waste products, but they also help to regulate blood pressure, balance chemicals, maintain bone health, and keep us from becoming anemic.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when a kidney’s nephrons are damaged. Each kidney has about a million tiny filters called nephrons. A nephron is made up of a glomerulus and tubules. The nephrons filter blood. When they become damaged, the kidney becomes less efficient. Over time, as fewer nephrons are available to clean the blood, the kidneys are diseased and less able to keep the body healthy.

Like diabetes and high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease is called a “silent killer” because there are few symptoms and by the time individuals realize they have a problem, much damage has already been done. Once kidney function declines to a certain point, waste products and excess fluid buildup in the blood and can make you feel sick. Symptoms can include making less urine than normal, extreme tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath, swelling in the face, feet or hands, nausea or vomiting, a loss of appetite, a change in how things taste, and even confusion.


While each person is different, there are recommended steps that can be taken to help someone with chronic kidney disease prolong their kidney function. When someone is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the first step is to determine the stage of the disease.

The National Kidney Foundation has classified five stages to help doctors better treat their patients based on how much kidney function the patient has left. Measuring a person’s glomerular filtration rate (GFR) indicates how much blood is being filtered through the kidneys and will guide the course of treatment. More information on each stage of CKD can be found on the following pages.  

Learn More:



Fact Sheets

Basic Facts About Kidney Disease 

Kidney Citizen

The Basics on Chronic Kidney Disease

Additional Links

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
DaVita Healthcare Partners (pre-dialysis and dialysis info)
National Kidney Foundation (kidney disease, research)


Chronic Kidney Disease E-News

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