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Chronic Kidney Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects millions of Americans, but many don’t know they have it. Learn what causes CKD, its symptoms and how it’s treated.

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What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Your kidneys are two fist-shaped organs located between your ribs and your waist on the back of your body. They filter things the body doesn’t need from the blood and help maintain the right amount of fluid in the body. Cleaned blood returns to the bloodstream; waste is removed through the bladder as urine.

If your kidneys become damaged or injured, they won’t filter your blood as well. When this happens, you have chronic kidney disease. Without early intervention, your kidneys will eventually stop filtering

  • More than 38 million Americans have CKD37 MillionMore than 38 million Americans have CKD
  • 90% People with CKD who don’t know it90%People with CKD who don’t know it
  • Coordinate with Providers1 in 3Adults at risk of developing CKD

What Causes CKD?

Chronic kidney disease can occur for a variety of reasons. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes. These conditions damage the kidney’s filters, so the organs don’t function as they should. 

Other causes include:  

  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Cysts
  • Obesity
  • Medications
  • Chronic kidney infections
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Symptoms of CKD

In its earliest stages, chronic kidney disease has no symptoms. You won’t know damage has occurred to your kidneys before they begin to lose function. You may suspect there’s a problem due to symptoms like:

  • Changes in urination
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
ESKD Treatment Options

CKD Requires Early Intervention and Treatment

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Chronic kidney disease doesn’t develop overnight. Instead, it occurs over five stages (CKD1 through CKD5) and can be slowed if discovered early.

Strive Health helps you manage your kidney disease. With complete disease management, 24/7 access to kidney care experts and customized educational resources, we’ll be right by your side during your entire journey.

Dedicated Caregivers

Kidney Heroes™, including nurse practitioners, dietitians, care coordinators and licensed clinical social workers, answer your questions and provide support outside doctor’s visits.

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Dedicated Caregivers

Personalized Support

Wellness checks, done over the phone and virtually, keep you in contact with your support team, helping keep your kidneys working for as long as possible.

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Comprehensive Education

Comprehensive Education

Easy-to-understand educational materials help you understand the disease process and stay in control of your CKD.

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Treatment for Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease can’t be cured, but treatments to control symptoms, reduce complications and slow the progression are available.

Medications to lower high blood pressure can help preserve kidney function. Additionally, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, control your blood sugar, eat a low-protein diet, exercise regularly, take supplements to support your bone health, lower your cholesterol and take medications for swelling and anemia.

If you don’t take steps to support your kidney health, waste and fluid will build up in your body, and you’ll feel sick, tired and weak. You may also develop: 

  • Heart and vascular disease 
  • Anemia (low red blood cells)
  • Bone disorders 
  • High blood pressure


Eventually, your kidneys will stop working, and you’ll need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. Dialysis is a medical treatment that filters your blood in much the same way as your kidneys. It is usually necessary when you’ve lost 85–90% of your kidney function. You can have dialysis in a clinic, hospital or your home.

What Can I Do to Protect My Kidneys?

A healthy lifestyle is the first step to protecting your kidneys. Eat less salt and fat, exercise, don’t smoke and lose weight, if needed. Avoid drinking alcohol in excess and be careful about taking over-the-counter pain medications too often. To further protect your kidney health, control your high blood pressure or diabetes. And take prescription medications as recommended by your doctor.

Since there are no symptoms of early-stage kidney disease, you should have a check-up with your doctor or healthcare professional if you are at risk. Your doctor may order simple tests to check for creatinine in your blood and protein in your urine. These tests will determine how well your kidneys remove waste from your blood. Your doctor may order a kidney biopsy or ultrasound to diagnose kidney disease if needed.

Kidney Disease Risk Quiz

National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Risk Quiz

Take this quick kidney disease risk quiz from the National Kidney Foundation

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Strive Health is here for you no matter where you are in your journey. We can help you navigate CKD so you experience a better outcome. Contact us to learn more.