Chronic kidney disease

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, is where the kidneys do not work as well as they used to and are losing their function. CKD can get worse over time and can lead to the kidneys not working altogether, although this is uncommon as most people are able to live long and somewhat relatively normal lives.



What are the symptoms of CKD?

In the early stages of CKD, there may be few signs or symptoms and it may be picked up if blood or urine tests detect a problem with the kidneys. This may happen when tests are undertaken for other problems. CKD does not become apparent until there is significant impairment in kidney function. The signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease, which progresses slowly, may include:

  • Feeling sick, nauseous and vomiting
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • Changes in how often you urinate
  • Twitching of muscles and cramps
  • Itching
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

What are the causes of chronic kidney disease?

Kidney disease is caused by other health conditions that can put a strain on the kidneys. CKD can be caused by:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis)
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Long-term use of medications, such as lithium.

Tests for chronic kidney disease

Blood and urine tests can look for high levels of certain substances that show signs that the kidneys are not working properly. The test results can tell what stage of the disease that the kidneys are in.

Treatment of chronic kidney disease

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease but symptoms can be relieved to stop them from becoming worse. The main treatments include:

  • Lifestyle changes to in order to stay healthy.
  • Medication to help with problems, such as high blood pressure.
  • Kidney dialysis, to replicate some of the kidney’s functions.
  • Kidney transplant

The outlook for chronic kidney disease

The condition of CKD can range from mild to very serious, and the point where the kidney stops working. This is known as kidney failure. CKD can be controlled with medication and regular check-ups. According to the NHS, only one in fifty people end up with kidney failure from the condition. Even with mild CKD, it can lead to other serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease.