Frequently Asked Questions
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a condition in which an individual’s kidneys are damaged or are unable to perform one of their chief, essential functions: to filter blood. Kidney Disease is “Chronic” because the condition persists for more than three months.
CKD often worsens over time and may ultimately lead to kidney failure or End Stage Renal Disease. When your kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant is required to stay alive.
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What causes Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
The two main causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of cases. Other conditions that affect the kidneys are:
- glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage to the kidney's filtering units
- inherited diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, which causes large cysts to form in the kidneys and damage the surrounding tissue
- lupus and other diseases that affect the body's immune system
- obstructions caused by kidney stones, tumors, or an enlarged prostate gland in men
recurrent urinary infections
What is End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)?
ESRD, also known as End Stage Kidney Disease, occurs when CKD reaches an advanced state and the kidneys are no longer able to perform their essential functions to meet the body's needs. Patients with ESRD require dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. However, some patients choose to forgo dialysis or a transplant and instead opt for conservative care to manage their symptoms, seeking the best quality of life possible during their remaining time.
Is there a cure for CKD or ESRD?
There is presently no cure for CKD or ESRD, but there are ways to manage both conditions. For patients with CKD, regular checkups with a nephrologist are vital to maintaining your health. With early diagnosis and treatment, you may be able to slow the progression of the disease.
What are the treatments for Kidney Disease?
If your condition is chronic, that means it’s a long-term condition. You and your doctor can manage it together. The goal is to slow the progression of the disease so your kidneys can still filter waste and excess water out of your blood. Your doctor will likely propose changes in your regular diet, daily medications, and regular checkups. If your kidneys are no longer functioning, you will need dialysis to do the job of your kidneys.
What is Dialysis?
Dialysis is a medical treatment for people with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) that assumes your kidneys’ functions when your kidneys are no longer working. There are two types of dialysis:
- Hemodialysis uses a machine with a mechanical filter to help cleanse your blood. Your blood is processed through a filter outside your body, cleaned, and then returned to you. Hemodialysis is performed either at a dialysis facility or at home.
- Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdomen to help cleanse your blood. A special fluid is injected into your abdomen to absorb waste from the blood that passes through small vessels in your abdominal cavity. The fluid is then drained away. Peritoneal dialysis is typically performed at home.
What is a Kidney Transplant?
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure in which a healthy “matching” kidney from a living or deceased donor is implanted into an individual with End Stage Renal Disease. Kidney transplants are a major surgery, and patients are typically placed on a waitlist until a donated kidney becomes available. After your transplant, you will need to take medication so that your body accepts the donated kidney. If the transplant is successful, then you will no longer require dialysis treatments.
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