Chronic Kidney Disease

(CKD; Chronic Renal Disease)


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is when the kidneys do not filter blood the right way. It happens over a long period of time. This causes waste to build up in the body and leads to other health problems.

Anatomy of the Kidney

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


CKD is caused by damage or disease in the kidneys. Common causes include:

Risk Factors

CFD is more common in older adults. Smoking and alcohol use disorder are the main risk factors. Other things that may raise the risk are:


CKD may cause problems such as:

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Feeling that it is hard to breathe
  • Change in how food tastes
  • Feeling confused, restless, or sad


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. Blood and urine tests will be done to see how well the kidneys are working.

Other tests will be done to find a cause. You may need to see a doctor who treats kidney diseases.


There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to prevent or slow damage and manage problems. Options are:


The doctor may advise stopping or changing any medicines that hurt the kidneys.

Medicines may be given to:

  • Control health problems that hurt the kidneys, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Manage problems caused by CKD, such as swelling, nausea, or feeling tired.

Lifestyle Changes

The doctor may advise:

  • Not smoking
  • Dietary changes
  • Regular exercise

People with severe CKD may need:

  • Dialysis —a machine that cleans the blood
  • A kidney transplant


To lower the risk of CKD:

  • Manage health problems that can cause kidney damage, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit alcohol


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Foundation


The Kidney Foundation of Canada


Chronic kidney disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: Accessed December 28, 2020.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed December 28, 2020.
Gaitonde DY, Cook DL, Rivera IM. Chronic kidney disease: detection and evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(12):776-783.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD