Chronic Kidney Disease
What is Chronic Kidney Disease and Who Gets It?
Reprinted with permission from DaVita, Inc.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs over time when kidneys become damaged or diseased and no longer function properly. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. and there are some people who are at a greater risk for getting chronic kidney disease than others.
What is chronic kidney disease and who gets it?
Your kidneys are vital to the overall health of your body. These bean-shaped organs located near the middle of your back work to remove wastes and fluid from your blood.
When your body digests food, it takes the nutrients it needs and sends the leftover wastes through your blood for the kidneys to filter. Your hard-working kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood each day. The end result is about 2 quarts of waste products and excess fluid, which is passed from the body as urine.
Along with removing waste products, your kidneys are responsible for other important functions:
- Balancing bodily fluids
- Filtering drugs from the body
- Regulating the production of red blood cells
- Releasing hormones that maintain blood pressure
- Producing a form of vitamin D that supports healthy bones and helps maintain chemical balance in the body
You may have heard of renal function. This is a term used by doctors and other health care providers to indicate how well your kidneys are currently functioning. For instance, if you have two healthy, normal kidneys, you have 100 percent renal function. In reality, this is more renal function than is needed for survival. In fact, a person born with just a single kidney can go on to live a long and healthy life.
When a person's kidneys get damaged or diseased, their function is compromised. With chronic kidney disease, kidneys can lose function over the years. As kidney function decreases to less than 60 percent, a person may start to feel symptoms. When renal function falls below 10 percent to 15 percent, an individual is diagnosed with end stage renal disease and will need either dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to survive.
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