Chronic kidney disease (CKD) (also called kidney failure) occurs when the kidneys gradually stop functioning, resulting in a dangerous buildup of fluid, electrolytes and wastes in the body. CKD can result from diseases that affects the entire body, most notably diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), or from diseases that affect only the kidneys. Typically, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) occurs after years of CKD and requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. CKD may also cause hypertension, and heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD.

What Are the Types of Chronic Kidney Disease?

The following are common diseases or conditions which may lead to kidney failure:

Glomerulonephritis (also known as nephritis and nephrotic syndrome) is group of diseases that cause inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidney, called glomeruli, that remove excess fluid, electrolytes and waste from the bloodstream and pass them into the urine. Damage to the glomeruli causes blood and protein to be lost in the urine. Symptoms may include discolored (pink or brown) urine, foamy urine, hypertension, or fluid retention in the abdomen, face, hands and feet. Glomerulonephritis occurs on its own or as part of another disease, such as lupus or diabetes, and can come on suddenly or gradually.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic (inherited) disorder in which in which numerous cysts grow in the kidneys (and potentially other organs) and can slowly replace much of the kidneys, reducing kidney function and causing kidney failure. Symptoms, which typically begin in a person’s 30s or 40s, may include high blood pressure (most common sign of PKD), back or side pain, increased abdomen size, headache, feeling of fullness in the abdomen, blood in the urine, frequent bladder or kidney infections, kidney stones or kidney failure. According to the National Kidney Foundation, PKD is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure, and about 50% of people with PKD will have kidney failure by age 60; 60% by age 70.

Defects in the urinary tract, such as obstructions caused by problems like kidney stones, tumors or an enlarged prostate in men, may contribute to kidney failure.

Malformations that occur as a baby develops in its mother's womb can also affect kidney function. A narrowing in the baby’s urinary tract that prevents normal outflow of urine, causing a backflow of urine to the kidney, for example, could cause infections and damage the kidneys.

Additional causes of kidney failure may include:

  • Lupus nephropathy
  • Amyloidosis
  • Sickle cell nephropathy
  • Heavy metals
  • Analgesic nephropathy
  • Reflux/chronic pyelonephritis
  • Medullary cystic disease
  • Alport’s Syndrome
  • Prostatic disease
  • Nephrolithiasis
  • Retroperitoneal fibrosis/tumor
  • Hypertensive nephrosclerosis
  • Rental artery stenosis

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, changes in urine volume, difficulty sleeping, mental fogginess, muscle cramps or twitches, itching, swelling of ankles and feet, chest pain, shortness of breath or hypertension.

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