What is Kidney Disease?

Explore this section to learn more about chronic kidney disease (CKD). You will find that CKD, which can happen at any age, can have both common and rare causes. Learn about the symptoms, some of which may not show up until a later stage of the disease.

Role of Kidneys

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

Nephrons

Nephron

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when kidney 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.

Silent Killer

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.

A blood or urine test can tell you how well your kidneys are functioning.

However, there are two tests that can tell you how well your kidneys are functioning. They may be included in the your annual physical evaluation, or you can ask your physician to do them. One is a urine test called ACR (albumin-to-creatinine ratio), which tells how much protein is in your urine. Usually protein is in the blood, and when it is in the urine, it may be a sign of early kidney disease.

The other is a blood test and it tells how much creatinine, a waste product that comes from muscle tissue, is in your blood. From that test, your GFR (glomerular filtration rate) can be estimated which includes your age, race, and  sex.

As your  kidney function declines, waste products and excess fluid build up in the blood and can make you feel sick.

Related Information

Learn More About Kidney Disease

What Is Kidney Disease?

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Stages of Kidney Disease

Causes of Kidney Disease

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease

Pediatric Kidney Disease