What is Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition that occurs when your kidneys do not work properly.

Chronic kidney disease is called “chronic” because the damage to your kidneys happens slowly over a long period of time.

There are five stages of chronic kidney disease, they range from stage 1 (nearly normal kidney function) to stage 5 (kidney failure).

If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain your health.

Who is likely to develop Chronic Kidney Disease?

People can be at risk of developing chronic kidney failure for many reasons including the following:

  • Family history of chronic kidney disease.
  • Health issues including: Diabetes, High blood pressure, Cardiovascular disease, Kidney or ureter blockages, Obesity, Lupus.
  • Ethnicity: If you are of African American, Hispanic or Native American descent—you are more prone to diabetes and high blood pressure, which are risk factors for CKD.
  • Lifestyle: Overuse of certain medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen

How do the kidneys work?

The kidneys are an organ in the body which form part of the urinary system. The urinary system play an important role in removing waste products from the body.

The main structures in the urinary system are:

  • The Kidneys: Most people are born with two kidneys. They are bean-shaped organs, about the size of your fist, located on either side of your spine near the middle of your back.
  • The Ureters: Two tubes which run from the kidney to the bladder carrying urine.
  • The Bladder: Collects and temporarily stores urine form the kidneys. The bladder holds around 700-800 millilitres (mls) of urine.
  • TheUrethra: The tube in which urine is excreted from the body.

The kidney is made up of serval parts:

  • The Renal Artery: A large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the kidneys to be cleaned.
  • The Nephrons: The tiny filtration centers throughout the kidneys, each kidney contains about a million nephrons.
  • The Glomerulus: A special “strainer” inside each nephron that keeps the blood cells and necessary substances in your blood and filters extra fluid and waste out.

The kidneys have a number of important functions which include:

  • Maintaining the body’s fluid balance.
  • Clearing waste substances from the blood. Waste products cleared by the kidney include:
    • Urea: Waste product from protein
    • Potassium: Mineral absorbed into the bloodstream from diet. Potassium regulates your heart rate.
    • Creatinine: Waste product from the breakdown of muscle cell activity.
    • Sodium: A chemical absorbed in the bloodstream from diet. Sodium plays an important role in regulating the amount of fluid in the blood. Excess sodium in the blood can cause the blood pressure to rise.
    • Chloride: Helps maintain a balance of fluid in the body.
  • Regulating blood pressure.
  • Making certain hormones.
  • Balancing the levels of certain chemicals in the blood.