Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is permanent kidney damage or a decreased level of kidney function that continues for three months or more. When left untreated, CKD can lead to complete kidney failure. If that happens, the only options for survival are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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About CKD

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Symptoms and Warning Signs

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About Your Kidneys

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About Chronic Kidney Disease

  • 37 million Americans over the age of 20 have chronic kidney disease, also known as CKD, including kidney failure.
  • More than a million (or 1 in 7) adults in Michigan have chronic kidney disease. And most of them don’t even know it.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S.
  • High blood pressure is the second leading cause.
  • African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans are at an increased risk for developing CKD from kidney disease.
  • African Americans are four times more likely to develop kidney failure because of diabetes than Caucasians.
  • African Americans are also 6.5 times more likely to develop kidney failure because of high blood pressure.
  • Kidney failure caused by diabetes or high blood pressure can be prevented or delayed by eating healthy, increasing physical activity, and taking the right medications.

Types of Kidney Disease

There are a number of different types of kidney disease other than chronic kidney disease caused by uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. They include:

  • Glomerular diseases, which affect your glomeruli – your kidneys’ filtering units.
  • Congenital diseases, which is something you are born with.
  • Inherited diseases, where is something passed down to you by your relatives

Click here for more information on Polycystic Kidney Disease.

What causes chronic kidney disease?

In most cases, the damage is caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high, resulting in damage to many organs and muscles in your body — including the kidneys and heart as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes. Visit our Diabetes page for more information.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the pressure of your blood increases against the walls of your blood vessels. If not controlled, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Visit our Hypertension page for more information.

Symptoms and Early Warning Signs

In the first phases of CKD, there are often no symptoms. However, a simple urine test for small amounts of protein in the urine can detect early-stage kidney disease. As the disease progresses, you might notice:

  • More frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Puffiness around eyes, swelling of hands and feet, especially in children

And urine or blood tests may reveal:

  • Blood and/or protein in the urine
  • A declining glomerular filtration rate (GFR)

What is a GFR?

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a blood test that measures your level of kidney function. The calculation also weighs other factors such as your age, race, gender and body size. Your doctor can calculate your GFR based on the results.

Are you at risk?

You are at high risk for CKD if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have family members with CKD
  • Are African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or a Pacific Islander

If you checked any of the above items in the HIGH RISK category, it’s important that you see your doctor and ask for three simple tests:

  • Blood pressure measurement,
  • Urine test to detect protein in the urine
  • GFR

If you’re concerned about CKD, or have any of the high risk factors, here’s what your next steps should be:

  • Talk to your doctor about your risk factors.
  • Ask your doctor to order the above listed three tests.
  • Ask your doctor to explain the test results and what to do.

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About Your Kidneys

How Your Kidneys Work

The kidneys filter your body’s blood. Most people have two kidneys, located near the middle of their back, just below the rib cage. Kidneys remove waste and extra fluid in the form of urine. This waste comes from the breakdown of food as it’s digested and from normal muscle activity.

Your kidneys perform other important jobs as well. They:

  • Control the level of water and chemicals in your blood
  • Remove drugs and toxins from your body
  • Release hormones into your blood to help your body make blood cells, build bones and regulate blood pressure

How to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy

  1. Keep your blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg (or the target your doctor sets for you).
  2. Stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible. Get active — physical activity helps control blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  3. Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  4. Get your kidneys tested every year.
  5. If you have CKD, meet with a dietitian to create a kidney-healthy eating plan. Ask your doctor for a referral.

If you have kidney disease questions or need support, please contact the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s Patient Services Department. | 1-800-482-1555 ext 2570

Learn More about NKFM's Programs

Diabetes Prevention Program

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If you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes, the DPP's small group setting, along with a trained and passionate coach, helps you make sustained, healthy lifestyle changes.


PATH helps people better manage their long-term health conditions by learning strategies to deal with pain, fatigue, difficult emotions, and more.

Peer Mentoring

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Peer Mentors are individuals who have walked the same path and may understand the kidney patient experience better than friends, family, and the health care team.