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Prevea Health

Kidney disease: an overview

 
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The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs. Each kidney is about the size of a fist. Your kidneys filter extra water and wastes out of your blood and make urine. Kidney disease means your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should.
 
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the overall prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the general population is approximately 14 percent. More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure; and of these, 468,000 individuals are on dialysis and roughly 193,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant.
 
Kidney disease often has no symptoms in its early stages and can go undetected until it is very advanced. For this reason, kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent disease”.
 
You are at greater risk for kidney disease if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. If you experience kidney failure, treatments include kidney transplant or dialysis. Other kidney problems include acute kidney injury, kidney cysts, kidney stones, and kidney infections.
 
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should. The main risk factors for developing kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and a family history of kidney failure.

Your health care provider may do tests to find out why you have kidney disease. The cause of your kidney disease may affect the type of treatment you receive. Talk to your health care provider about testing for kidney disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of kidney failure. The sooner you know you have kidney disease, the sooner you can get treatment.
 
Polycystic kidney disease
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes many cysts to grow in the kidneys. PKD cysts cause high blood pressure and problems with blood vessels in the brain in heart. Cysts in the liver can also occur with PKD.
 
Kidney stones
A kidney stone is a solid, pebble-like piece of material that can form in one or both of your kidneys when high levels of certain minerals are in your urine. Kidney stones rarely cause permanent damage if treated by a health care professional.
 
You may have a kidney stone if you feel a sharp pain in your back, side, lower abdomen, or groin; or have blood in your urine. If you have a small stone that easily passes through your urinary tract, you may not have symptoms at all.
 
Kidney stones are diagnosed with a physical exam and tests which may be able to show problems that caused a kidney stone to form. Treatment may include removing the kidney stone or breaking it into small pieces.
 
Kidney failure
Kidney disease can worsen over time and may lead to kidney failure. If less than 15 percent of your kidney is functioning normally, that’s considered kidney failure. You may have symptoms from the buildup of waste products and extra water in your body.
Learn about kidney treatment failure options early. Three treatment options filter your blood:
 
  1. Hemodialysis: A treatment to filer wastes and extra water from your blood. A hemodialysis machine pumps your blood through a filter outside of your body and returns filtered blood to your body.
  2. Peritoneal dialysis: A treatment for kidney failure you can do at home. This type of dialysis uses the lining of your belly to filter wastes and extra fluid from your body.
  3. Kidney transplant: A surgical procedure where a healthy kidney from a donor is placed into your body.
 
A fourth option may be conservative management, which is care without dialysis or transplant. Your care team continues your care with treatment goals to preserve kidney function and quality of life as long as possible.
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