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Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Chronic Kidney Disease

(CKD; Chronic Renal Disease)


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is when the kidneys do not filter blood the right way. It happens over a long period of time. This causes waste to build up in the body and leads to other health problems.

Anatomy of the Kidney.

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CKD is caused by damage or disease in the kidneys. Common causes are:

Risk Factors

CKD is more common in older adults. Smoking and alcohol use disorder are the main risk factors. Other things that may raise the risk are:


CKD may cause problems such as:

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Feeling that it is hard to breathe
  • Change in how food tastes
  • Feeling confused, restless, or sad


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done. Blood and urine tests will be done to see how well the kidneys are working.

Other tests will be done to find a cause.


There is no cure, but steps can be taken to prevent or slow damage and manage symptoms. Options are:


To lower the risk of CKD:

  • Manage health problems that can cause kidney damage, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit alcohol




  • Chronic kidney disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd.
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/overview-of-chronic-kidney-disease-ckd-in-adults.
  • Gaitonde DY, Cook DL, Rivera IM. Chronic kidney disease: detection and evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(12):776-783.


  • Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.