What Is Chronic Kidney Disease?


What are kidneys?

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs that are about the size of a fist and located at the back of the torso. They are situated under the lower part of the rib cage on each side of the backbone. Their main function is to filter waste from the blood and produce urine that is sent to the bladder.

What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic kidney failure, is a term used to encompass damage to the kidneys that is caused by various conditions. It involves the gradual loss of kidney function that develops over months or years. As the kidneys lose the ability to filter the blood and remove waste and extra fluids from the body, a buildup of fluids, electrolytes, and wastes occurs. This can cause a variety of serious health problems, such as the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Anemia
  • Infections
  • Low calcium levels
  • High potassium levels
  • Increased phosphorus
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression


Since chronic kidney disease is usually a slow progression, signs or symptoms may not be apparent during the early stage. However, as it advances, symptoms may develop that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Changes in urination, such as frequent or infrequent urination, difficulty urinating, or urine that is dark, pale, or foamy
  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, hands or face
  • Itchy or dry skin
  • Metallic taste or bad breath
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems
  • Decreased mental clarity
  • Muscle cramps


Chronic kidney disease occurs when a disease or condition impairs kidney function and causes kidney damage. A wide variety of diseases and conditions can impair kidney function, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase the likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. They include the following:

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