What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

Dialysis in Idaho

Chronic Kidney Disease simply refers to the permanent and gradual loss of the filters of the kidney. Kidney filters act like water filters cleaning out your blood stream. Loss of these filters (chronic kidney disease) may be the result of diseases that can affect the kidneys such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

When the kidneys start losing their filters, they do not remove waste products and extra fluid from the blood stream as well. The end product of severe CKD is End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) requiring dialysis. This means that the kidneys have lost enough filters to no longer clean out the blood stream. Thus, the goal in CKD is to slow the progression of, or prevent the loss of filters and preserve kidney function.

What are the symptoms of CKD?

Chronic Kidney Disease is a “silent” condition meaning that there are no symptoms in the early stages. As the loss of kidney function progresses and waste products build up, patients will often experience fatigue, nausea, confusion, and decreased appetite.

How do I know if I have CKD?

Chronic Kidney Disease can easily be found by drawing simple lab tests, such as a metabolic panel. Within a metabolic panel, the marker that is primarily used to evaluate your kidney function is creatinine. Creatinine is a byproduct of muscle use and is cleared by the kidneys. Based on your creatinine we are able to measure your kidney function. Blood urea nitrogen (another waste product of the body) is also used along with creatinine as a marker of kidney function.

Is it important to find CKD early?

Early detection of CKD is extremely important as the goal in treating CKD is to slow progression and prevent the need for dialysis down the road. This is accomplished through aggressive treatment of the underlying diseases causing CKD. The most common cause of CKD is diabetes followed by hypertension (high blood pressure).