What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is a condition characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time.

Chronic kidney disease develops when the kidneys have been damaged by conditions or diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), or inflammation of the kidneys’ filtration anatomy (glomerulonephritis or vasculitis).

Early detection of chronic kidney disease is important to slow the progression of CKD and a nephrologist should be consulted. While you typically cannot reverse damage, in stages 1 and 2, it is possible to prevent further damage and maintain kidney function. Changes in lifestyle and diet, along with regular checkups, can help keep the kidneys from further deterioration. Stages 3, 4 or 5 CKD are when your kidney function is moderately to severely reduced.  During these stages, it is most likely when you will experience physical changes.  If you have not been evaluated by a nephrologist, it is extremely important that you make an appointment with a nephrologist, like the experienced, reputable physicians at Dallas Nephrology Associates.


What are the functions of the kidneys?

The kidneys remove waste, drugs, and extra fluid from the body through the urine. In addition, they release hormones that help to:

  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Promote strong bones
  • Prevent anemia by increasing red blood cells
  • Maintain the correct balance of important electrolytes in your blood such as potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium


What causes CKD?

The two most common causes are diabetes (types 1 and 2) and high blood pressure. Other causes include:

  • Glomerulonephritis or vasculitis – inflammation of the glomeruli (the kidneys’ filtering units) or the blood vessels
  • Proteinuria or albuminuria – abnormal amounts of protein in the urine, specifically due to protein overproduction. (Proteinuria can also be a symptom of CKD.)
  • Polycystic kidney disease and other inherited kidney diseases
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune disorders
  • Chronic kidney infections
  • Hydronephrosis – swelling of the kidney which causes an obstruction of the flow of urine from the kidney
  • Kidney stones

Did You Know? Major risk factors for chronic kidney disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and family history of kidney failure as well as obesity, autoimmune diseases, urinary tract infections and systemic infections.

What are the symptoms of chronic kidney disease?

  • Fatigue
  • Increased frequency in urination
  • Loss of appetite or nausea
  • Muscle cramping at night
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mental changes such as inability to concentrate
  • Swelling of the face, feet, ankles (edema)
  • Puffiness around the eyes, especially in the morning
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

Who is most at risk for chronic kidney disease?

  • African Americans
  • Hispanics
  • Pacific Islanders
  • American Indians
  • Advanced age in some persons

Three simple tests can detect chronic kidney disease.

A yearly checkup with your primary care physician is the most effective way to monitor your risk. Early detection and treatment can prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease.

Three tests to detect kidney problems are:

  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Urinalysis to evaluate abnormal protein, blood or cells in the urine
  • Blood test to measure the level of creatinine, waste products and toxins in the blood. A high level of creatinine indicates that the kidneys are not functioning well. This test result is often reported as a estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

Find out more about chronic kidney disease.

For more information about chronic kidney disease, its causes and associated disorders, click on the links below.

For leading-edge, compassionate, and effective care for chronic kidney disease in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, call Dallas Nephrology Associates at 877-654-3639. You can also contact us via our convenient online form.