Skip to Content

Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease (CKD)

is the gradual and permanent loss of kidney function. Normally, the kidneys remove fluid, chemicals, and waste from your blood. These wastes are turned into urine by your kidneys. CKD may worsen over time and lead to kidney failure.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Changes in how often you need to urinate
  • Swelling in your arms, legs, or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Bad or bitter taste in your mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite

Seek care immediately if:

  • You are confused and very drowsy.
  • You have a seizure.
  • You have shortness of breath.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You suddenly gain or lose more weight than your healthcare provider has told you is okay.
  • You have itchy skin or a rash.
  • You urinate more or less than you normally do.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have nausea and repeated vomiting.
  • You have fatigue or muscle weakness.
  • You have hiccups that will not stop.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for CKD:

Medicines may be given to decrease blood pressure and get rid of extra fluid. You may also receive medicine to manage health conditions that may occur with CKD. Dialysis is a treatment to remove chemicals and waste from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do this. Surgery may be needed to create an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) in your arm or insert a catheter into your abdomen so that you can receive dialysis. A kidney transplant may be done if your CKD becomes severe.

Manage CKD:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, 4 to 7 times a week, or as directed. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Regular exercise can help you manage CKD, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's advice about what to eat and drink. He may tell you to eat food low in sodium (salt), potassium, phosphorus, or protein. You may need to see a dietitian if you need help planning meals. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Limit alcohol. Ask how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and kidney damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need vaccines. Infections such as pneumonia, influenza, and hepatitis can be more harmful or more likely to occur in a person who has CKD. Vaccines reduce your risk of infection with these viruses.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Chronic Kidney Disease (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference