June 2010

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Health Capsule

Learn About Chronic Kidney Disease

Millions of Americans have chronic kidney disease, but many don’t realize they have it. That’s because early kidney disease has no symptoms. You might feel just fine until your kidneys have almost stopped working.

The main job of the kidneys is to filter extra water and wastes out of your blood and to make urine. The kidneys also help control blood pressure and make hormones that your body needs to stay healthy.

Chronic kidney disease arises when the small blood vessels in the kidneys become damaged, usually because of diabetes or high blood pressure. If the disease progresses, the kidneys may no longer be able to function well enough to maintain health.

The earlier you know you have kidney disease, the better. The right treatment can help prevent further kidney damage and slow down kidney disease. With early detection, you can start taking medications sooner and take other steps to keep your kidneys healthy longer.

You’re at increased risk for chronic kidney disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of kidney failure. If one of these describes you, don’t wait for symptoms. Ask your doctor about getting checked. Simple blood and urine tests are the only way to know if you have kidney disease.

You can learn more about chronic kidney disease, including how to talk to your family and your doctor about the condition, at www.nkdep.nih.gov/patients. The information is available in Spanish at www.nkdep.nih.gov/espanol.