The basics


Overview of the kidneys

Kidneys may be small (each one is about the size of a fist), but they are important and hard-working organs. Each kidney contains a million tiny filters that clean your blood and balance the chemistry of your body. They remove waste and excess water, help control your blood pressure, produce the hormone erythropoietin to make red blood cells and balance the minerals in your body. Learn more in this overview of the kidneys.


Questions to ask your doctor

When you find out you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you will understandably have many questions. This is a guide to help you organize your thoughts and decide on questions to ask your doctor about kidney disease and get the answers you need to go forward.


What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is defined as a permanent loss of kidney function. It can happen slowly and silently over months or years. Chronic kidney disease progresses from mild to severe and in the early stages there may be no warning symptoms. A CKD diagnosis means that tests have shown your kidneys are not functioning to remove wastes and extra water from your body as efficiently as they should. Learn more about chronic kidney disease, from symptoms and diagnosis to slowing its progression.


Stages of chronic kidney disease

There are five stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD), and they are determined by using guidelines from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). In order to measure how well kidneys are cleaning the blood, doctors use a measure called glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This is an overview of the stages of chronic kidney disease and how each stage determines the kind of treatment you need as kidney function decreases.


What kidneys do

These bean-shaped organs of your body work very hard – they are the kidneys and each one is about the size of an adult fist. But what is it that kidneys do that makes them so important? Kidneys balance the body’s chemistry by cleaning the entire blood supply every 5 minutes. They filter waste products and extra water out of your body through your urine. Those are just a couple of the many examples of what kidneys do.


Early stages of chronic kidney disease

In the early stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD), you may have few symptoms. Your kidney health care team will compute your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and compare it to established guidelines by the National Kidney Foundation to determine if you are in the early stages of kidney disease (also known as stages 1 and 2). Once you’ve been diagnosed, a kidney treatment plan for your specific needs can be developed.


What causes chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) comes on slowly over the years. But did you know that certain conditions you have now can develop into kidney disease? Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease. So what else causes chronic kidney disease? Learn more in this overview about how you could develop kidney disease.


How kidneys fail

Kidneys balance the body’s chemistry by regulating fluid, removing wastes and maintaining mineral balance. But kidney failure can happen due to conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases that affect the kidneys. Learn how kidneys fail and the treatments you can receive if you have kidney disease.


Smoking and kidney disease

Smoking has long been identified as a health risk to everyone, but for people with kidney disease, it can be especially problematic. Read about some of the complications that arise for smokers with kidney disease.


What is a nephrologist?

A nephrologist is a licensed medical doctor who has trained to become an expert in the function and diseases of the kidney. Commonly referred to as kidney doctors, nephrologists treat many kidney diseases, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), acute renal failure, polycystic kidney disease (PKD), kidney cancers and kidney stones. Nephrologists also help manage kidney patients who are on dialysis. Learn more about nephrologists.


Health tools

DaVita Diet Helper

Need help sticking to the kidney diet? DaVita Diet Helper can help.
DaVita.com/DietHelper »

GFR Calculator

Learn about the stages of kidney disease with our easy-to-use GFR calculator, store results and track a GFR over time.
DaVita.com/GFR »

Report Comment
Reason that you feel the post is inappropriate:
yk80