occurs when a kidney is damaged and cannot work effectively. Kidneys clean waste from the blood, which passes out of the body in urine.
Anatomy of the Kidney
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Chronic renal failure is often caused by diseases such as: High blood pressureDiabetesVascular diseasesKidney diseasesObstructive diseases, such as kidney stonesPolycystic kidney diseaseAcute tubular necrosisGlomerular diseaseRenal tubular disordersToxin/drug-induced kidney diseaseSevere infectionAutoimmune diseases
The following factors increase your chance of developing chronic renal failure. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor: Race: African Americans more than Caucasians
type 1 diabetes, polycystic kidney disease
DiabetesHigh blood pressureSmoking cigarettesHeavy alcohol consumptionUrinary reflux, also known as vesicoureteralChronic urinary tract infectionsExposure to high levels of lead
Being overweight or
obeseOther family members with kidney disease
Symptoms include: TirednessWeaknessNot sleeping wellLess desire to eat than usualNauseaItchingShortness of breathAltered tasteAltered mental state
Your doctors will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with: Blood testsBiopsy
Images may be taken of your kidneys. This can be done with
Patients who are already at high risk for kidney disease should be tested more frequently so any damage can be diagnosed early. Patients with kidney disease will be referred to a specialist called a nephrologist, who is dedicated to managing kidney diseases.
Although chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it is possible to slow the damage to the kidney in most patients. Your doctor may recommend any of the following: Controlling protein in the urine by restricting the amount of protein in the diet or medicationTaking ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor antagonists to slow the progression to chronic renal failureReducing the use of and the dosages of drugs that may be toxic to the kidneysManaging the complications of chronic renal disease such as fluid overload, high blood phosphate or potassium levels, low blood level of calcium, and anemiaLowering high blood pressureControlling blood sugar and lipid levelsStaying hydratedControlling salt in the dietQuitting smoking
dialysis, a medical process that cleans the blood
Having a kidney transplantCounseling for you and your family about dialysis and/or transplant options
To help reduce your chance of chronic kidney failure, take the following steps: Get a physical exam every year that includes a urine test to monitor your kidney's health.Do not smoke. Stop smoking if you are a smoker.Maintain a healthy weight.Drink water and other fluids to stay hydrated.People who have diabetes, previously known kidney disease, high blood pressure, or are over the age of 60 should be screened regularly for kidney disease.People with a family history of kidney disease should also be screened regularly.
Chronic renal failure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Pendse S, Singh AK. Complications of chronic kidney disease: anemia, mineral metabolism, and cardiovascular disease.
Med Clin N Am. 2005; 89:549-561.
Snyder S and Pendergraph B. Detection and evaluation of chronic kidney disease.
Am Fam Physician. 2005; 72:1739-1746. Available at:
Accessed July 12, 2013.
Zandi-Nejod K, Brenner BM. Strategies to retard the progression of chronic renal disease.
Med Clin N Am.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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