What is chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease is kidney disease that continues. It rarely gets better, although there are ways to stop it getting worse.
What causes chronic kidney disease?
Most people who have chronic kidney disease have a health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Other diseases that cause chronic kidney disease include glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidney’s filters.
Other things that contribute to people getting chronic kidney disease are:
- having heart failure, or having had a heart attack or stroke
- having kidney disease in the family
- being overweight
- being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
- a kidney injury in the past
If any of this sounds like you, it’s best to get your kidneys checked every year.
You can help prevent chronic kidney disease by keeping a healthy weight, eating healthily, not smoking, keeping a check on your blood pressure, keeping within your glucose targets if you have diabetes and exercising regularly — see Preventing kidney disease.
Kidney disease signs and symptoms
Kidney disease is sometimes called a ‘silent disease’ because there may be no warning signs.
Symptoms often start only when the kidneys are working quite poorly, and may include high blood pressure, changes in your urine, tiredness, nausea, and itching — see Kidney disease symptoms. If you notice any such symptoms, see your doctor.
Chronic kidney disease diagnosis and treatment
There are several tests doctors can do to check whether you have chronic kidney disease, including blood and urine tests — see kidney disease diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, treatments may be able to slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease — see kidney disease treatment.
If you are being treated for chronic kidney disease, your doctors may need to change other medicines you are on, since many medicines can affect the kidneys, such as blood pressure drugs and anti-inflammatories. Some medicines which leave the body through the kidneys may need to have their dose adjusted.
Some people go on to develop what is called Stage 5 or ‘end stage kidney disease’, in which their kidneys are working very badly. If you develop kidney failure, you will need either dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Last reviewed: January 2019