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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is impaired kidney function for more than 3 months. Normally, the kidneys filter wastes from blood and make urine. If they aren’t working well, wastes build up in the in the body.

Anatomy of the Kidney

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Causes  ^

CKD has many causes:

Risk Factors  ^

Your chances for CKD go up as you get older. Risk is also higher if you:

Symptoms  ^

CKD may cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lack of hunger
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Breathing problems
  • Altered taste
  • Changes in mental state

Diagnosis  ^

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests to look for certain proteins and other markers
  • Renal ultrasound
  • Kidney biopsy

You will be referred to a specialist for care.

Treatment  ^

The goal of care is to slow the progress of the disease. Care may involve:

  • Dietary changes to control protein and salt levels
  • Medicines to control blood pressure, and cholesterol and glucose levels
  • Changing medicines that are causing harm to your kidneys
  • Support to manage fluids, electrolytes, blood flow, and oxygen
  • An exercise program
  • Quitting smoking
  • Dialysis—a machine works for your kidneys by filtering your blood
  • A kidney transplant
  • Counseling

Prevention  ^

To lower your chances of CKD:

  • Get a physical exam every year that includes a urine test to monitor the health of your kidneys.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Follow your care plan if you have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes
  • If you’re in a high risk group, get screening tests as advised.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

National Kidney Foundation


Health Canada

The Kidney Foundation of Canada


Chronic kidney disease. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated March 2017. Accessed June 1, 2018.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 27, 2018. Accessed June 1, 2018.

Gaitonde DY, Cook DL, Rivera IM. Chronic kidney disease: detection and evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(12):776-783.

8/26/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Heiwe S, Jacobson SH. Exercise training in adults with CKD: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Kidney Dis. 2014;64(3):383-393.

4/6/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Park H, Adeyemi A, et al. A meta-analytic assessment of the risk of chronic kidney disease in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus. J Viral Hepat. 2015;22(11):897-905.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD  Last Updated: 6/1/2018

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