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SJHH / Livestream/ What happens when your kidneys fail?


What happens when your kidneys fail?

The slow loss of kidney function over a few months or years is called chronic kidney disease (CKD). Chronic kidney disease can occur when a condition damages your kidneys and keeps them from doing their job to keep you healthy. When your kidneys fail, dangerous levels of fluids and waste can build up in your body and make you feel sick. Kidney failure occurs when you have less than 15% of your kidney function. When your kidneys fail you may require dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Chronic kidney disease may be caused by:

  • High blood pressure and diabetes – the most common causes of kidney disease
  • Inflammation (glomerulonephritis) or infections (pyelonephritis)
  • Inherited genetic conditions such as polycystic disease
  • Long-term blockage in the urinary system (such as kidney stones)

Early detection and treatment can help prevent chronic kidney disease from getting worse.

What does it feel like to have CKD?

Some people with CKD may notice they:

  • Feel more tired than usual
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Have lost their appetite
  • Have swollen feet and lower legs
  • Feel like their skin is drier than usual

Some people who have chronic kidney disease may not know they are sick because they don’t have any symptoms until the disease is quite advanced.

Kidney Diseases are Common

What are the risks?

Learn more about St. Joe's Kidney and Urinary Program