Kidney Disease & Chronic Kidney Disease – What’s the Difference?

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According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, it’s estimated that 50% of seniors over 75 are believed to have kidney disease. High blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney failure are some of the factors that put one in three American at an increased risk of kidney failure. Learn more about the disease, symptoms, diagnosis, management, treatment prevention and outlook of Kidney disease in this article from the Cleveland Clinic.

Kidney disease means your kidneys aren’t working properly. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means your kidney function slowly gets worse with time. High blood pressure and diabetes are two common causes of CKD. There is no cure for CKD, but you can take steps to preserve function for as long as possible. Late-stage kidney disease requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

What is kidney disease? Having kidney disease means that there is damage to your kidneys and they aren’t working as well as they should. Kidney disease is called “chronic” because kidney function slowly gets worse over time. Kidney disease leads to kidney failure, which is also called end-stage kidney disease. At this point, you’ll need dialysis (artificial filtering) or a kidney transplant.

What do your kidneys do? You have two kidneys. They are bean-shaped organs that are located toward your back, on either side of your spine, just underneath the rib cage. Each kidney is about the size of your fist.

Your kidneys have many jobs, but their main job is to filter (clean) your blood, getting rid of toxins (wastes) and excess salt and water as urine. If your kidneys are damaged and don’t work as they should, wastes can build up in your blood and can make you sick. Your kidneys also balance the amount of salts and minerals in your body, make hormones that control blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep your bones strong.

Are there stages of chronic kidney disease? Yes, there are five stages of kidney disease. The stages are based on how well your kidneys are able to do their job – to filter out waste and extra fluid from your blood. The stages range from very mild (stage 1) to kidney failure (stage 5). Healthcare providers determine the stage of your kidney function according to the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Your GFR is a number based on the amount of creatinine, a waste product, found in your blood, along with other factors including your age, race and gender.

See a table on the stages of kidney disease, who’s at risk, causes and symptoms.