Chronic Kidney Disease

Understand kidney disease, and its causes and symptoms.

Kidney Disease


Chronic Kidney disease (CKD), also known as renal disease or nephropathy, is a condition that affects the proper functioning of your kidneys—the two bean-shaped vital organs in your urinary system that filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood via your urine. CDK occurs when your damaged kidneys can no longer filter blood in the way they should.

CKD progresses gradually over a period of months or years in stages making it distinct from acute kidney disease or injury (AKI) that develops rapidly over a short period and is usually reversible. Advanced chronic kidney disease can cause dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes to build up in your body and can eventually lead to kidney failure.


Underlying health conditions are usually the cause of CKD, including:


For many people, CKD is not caused by just one reason and is the result of multiple physical, environmental and social factors. Here are some of those additional factors that can put you at a higher risk:

  • Smoking or use of tobacco products
  • Obesity
  • Family history of kidney disease or kidney failure
  • Personal history of acute kidney injury (AKI)
  • Abnormal kidney structure
  • Older age (60+)
  • Prolonged use of some medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antibiotics, and certain chemotherapy drugs
  • Prolonged exposure to toxins or heavy metals


CKD has few signs or symptoms in the beginning. So you might not realise that you have the condition until it is in advanced stages. As the condition progresses, you may notice:

  • Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
  • Decreased urine (pee) output that may appear darker than usual, or pink, red, or brown
  • Increased urine frequency, especially at night (nocturia)
  • Swelling (oedema) in the legs, ankles, feet, and face
  • Blood in the urine (haematuria)
  • Foamy urine
  • Persistent itching, often with dry skin
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, which can lead to unintended weight loss
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Difficulty concentrating, with memory, and mental fog
  • Nausea
  • Itchy, dry skin


If CKD is left untreated and worsens, it can lead to kidney failure and complications, such as:

  • Heart disease (cardiovascular disease)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Low levels of red blood cells (Anaemia)
  • Acid buildup in the blood (metabolic acidosis)
  • Mineral & bone disorder
  • High levels of potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia)

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