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Chronic kidney disease means your kidneys have not worked right for a while. It most often happens as a result of damage to your kidneys over many years. But it can also happen quickly.
Your kidneys have an important job. They remove waste and extra fluid from your blood. This waste and fluid goes out of your body in your urine.
When your kidneys don't work as they should, wastes build up in your blood. This makes you sick.
High blood pressure and diabetes can cause kidney damage. Other causes include kidney infections and some medicines.
Chronic kidney disease is also called chronic renal failure. Or it may be called chronic renal insufficiency.
Your doctor will ask you about past kidney problems. You will be asked if you have a family history of kidney disease. Your doctor will also want to know what medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Your doctor will do blood and urine tests to check how well your kidneys are working. This will help your doctor see how well your kidneys filter your blood.
You may have a test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan. These tests let your doctor look at a picture of your kidneys. This can help your doctor measure the size of your kidneys and see if anything is blocking your urine flow.
In some cases, your doctor may take a tiny sample of kidney tissue. This is called a biopsy. It helps the doctor find out what caused the kidney disease.
Many people with chronic kidney disease don't have symptoms. If your kidneys get worse and start to fail, you may:
In the early stages of the disease, your kidneys are still able to regulate the fluids, salts, and waste products in your body. But if you keep losing kidney function, you may start to have problems, or complications.
How long it takes for the kidney disease to get worse depends on your condition. Sometimes it gets worse very slowly over many years. Or it may get worse more quickly.
When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects your whole body. It can cause serious heart, bone, and brain problems and make you feel very ill. Untreated kidney failure can cause death.
Go to all follow-up visits. Your doctor will use blood and urine tests to regularly check how well your kidneys are working and decide if you need changes in your treatment plan.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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