What is Chronic Kidney Disease and how does it apply to me?

By Dr. James Tumlin


If your doctor has informed you that you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you may be wondering what CKD means. Chronic kidney disease is a common disorder that affects up to 30 million Americans. It can be caused by multiple diseases but is most often the result of hypertension and diabetes.  A patient with CKD has reduced kidney function, which means that their kidneys are unable to fully clear excess salt, water and waste products from the body. Because we are born with a surplus of kidney function, patients can loose up to 70% of function before they develop detectable symptoms.  Some of these symptoms can include worsening hypertension with swelling of the feet, ankles or legs. In more advanced disease, patients can experience a loss of appetite resulting in weight loss and malnutrition. The inability to detect symptoms in the earliest stages of CKD can lead to improper physician follow up and subsequent progression of disease.