What Is Kidney Disease?


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Get the Facts About Kidney Disease

  • Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • More than 20 million adults age 20 or older in the U.S. have kidney disease and most don't know it.
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease.

Find out if you are at risk »

For a comprehensive overview of chronic kidney disease (CKD), from basic terminology to risk factors and matching a treatment option to your lifestyle, DaVita has all the in-depth information CKD patients and their care partners need.

What is Kidney Disease? Boost Your Knowledge Now

The 411 on Kidney Disease

Understanding your kidneys is the first step in taking control of your health. Following a kidney-friendly diet, taking good care of diabetes, hypertension and other health conditions, and not smoking may help your kidneys function better and longer, even when you have kidney disease. Your kidneys — two bean-shaped organs located in your lower back — play a more important role in your overall health than you may realize. They are your body’s filtration system, cleaning wastes and extra fluids from your body and producing and balancing chemicals that are necessary for your body to function. The more you know about how kidneys work, the less you'll need to ask, "what is kidney disease?"
Get the 411 on kidney disease »

5 Stages of Kidney Disease

What is kidney disease? Well, one of the first things to know is that kidney disease comes in stages. Knowing your chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage is important for deciding your treatment. CKD has five stages, ranging from nearly normal kidney function (stage 1) to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or transplant (stage 5). Understanding your stage can help you learn how to take control and slow the progression of your condition.
Discover the 5 stages of kidney disease »

Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

Get smart about two conditions that could secretly conspire against your kidneys. Diabetes and high blood pressure can work together as silent partners that cause damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys. Early detection, education, keeping blood sugar levels under control, eating healthy and exercising can put these two bad guys in their place while helping you achieve a better quality of life.
Learn more about diabetes and hypertension »

Schedule a Kidney Screening

Could you or someone you care about have chronic kidney disease (CKD)? One in 10 adults age 20 or older in the U.S. have CKD, and many others are at risk and don’t even know it. Risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardio vascular disease
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Minority groups(African American, Asian American, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans)
  • Age of 55 or older

If you may be at risk for kidney disease, consider scheduling a kidney screening with your primary care physician (PCP) for your next checkup. No cost screenings are offered in some areas as well. To learn more about screenings, you may want to contact The Kidney TRUST™, an organization aimed at increasing awareness of kidney disease through public education and testing programs.
Get started today »

More Articles in The Basics

Slowing the Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease

Finding out you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the earlier stages of CKD may allow you to take action to slow the progression of kidney disease and prevent kidney failure. By controlling blood pressure, and blood sugar levels for those with diabetes, and making other healthy lifestyle choices, it may be possible to keep kidneys working. Learn how you can help slow the progression of kidney disease.

Learn More »

Overview About Kidneys

Kidneys do a lot more than produce urine. These fist-sized, bean-shaped organs have a big responsibility in the body. Find out what they do and how they do their jobs.

Learn More »

What to Eat When You Have Kidney Disease

Many medical professionals believe that diet plays a role in slowing the progression of kidney disease. Lower protein diets may help the kidneys because they won’t have to work so hard. Because healthy kidneys are responsible for eliminating potassium and phosphorus, as kidney function slows, these minerals may need to be reduced in the diet. Find out what to eat when you have kidney disease.

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