Kidneys are vital for your body. Well-functioning kidneys remove waste and excess fluids from your blood, keep important minerals in balance, and help regulate blood pressure, produce red blood cells and vitamin D. In other words, your kidneys make sure your body stays healthy and balanced.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which your kidneys gradually lose their ability to help your body remove waste and fluid from your blood. When this happens, harmful wastes and fluids begin to build up in your body, making you feel unwell and out of balance. Although chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not curable, treatment can help slow its progression, control symptoms and enable you to live a full life.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects both of your kidneys at the same time. While your body gives you two kidneys to help filter waste, one is not a “back-up” for the other. They work in unison to cleanse your body. When you are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it means that both of your kidneys are affected and cannot properly filter waste and fluid from your body.
What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?
In most cases, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the result of other conditions that have permanently impacted your kidneys over time. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Other potential causes include polycystic kidney disease and other chronic conditions.
What Symptoms Will I Experience?
As all bodies are unique, symptoms may vary from person to person. You may not notice symptoms until your chronic kidney disease (CKD) is quite advanced. That is why kidney disease is sometimes referred to as a “silent” condition.
Coping with the Emotional Aspects of Your Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with a chronic disease is a life changing event. It is normal for you to experience a series of complicated emotions upon receiving this kind of news. Initially, you may feel shocked by unexpected test results or sad and fearful about the idea of living with a chronic illness. The way you cope with these emotions can significantly affect your physical and mental health throughout your treatment journey.
Treating and managing chronic kidney disease (CKD) comes with a variety of emotional challenges. It is important to allow yourself to feel them without judgment, recognize them as a normal part of life with a chronic illness, and look for opportunities to channel them into positive changes in your mindset and lifestyle.
You may feel some, or all, of the following:
Remember that you are not alone – your clinician and healthcare team can connect you with the resources you need to manage your emotions in a healthy way. To get the most out of this support network, you may need to take the lead – asking questions, reporting symptoms and educating yourself about chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Caregivers and family members may also play an important role in providing emotional support while you’re being treated. If you share your feelings with them, they may be able to provide a new perspective or guide you towards a more positive outlook. However, they may also have questions themselves - that's why we’ve also included a section specifically for caregivers and family members.
Understand the basics of chronic kidney disease
Learning what chronic kidney disease is and how it affects your body can seem like a big challenge. Therefore, we have summarized the most important things you need to know in a simple chart. Download and print it or share it with your family or caregiver.Download
Getting to know a new language
Being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and starting on dialysis probably mean that you will face a lot of words and items you have never encountered before. To help you learn the most essential terminology, we have created a small dictionary. Download and print it out, so you can start to familiarize yourself with some of the words you need to learn.Download
Explore your Options for Treating Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
There are a variety of treatment options available for chronic kidney disease (CKD) and it is important that you take an active role in identifying the one that suits you best. The next step in your journey is to prepare yourself to have an informed discussion with your clinician about which treatment is best suited to your physical, emotional and lifestyle needs.