Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease

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Chronic kidney disease (CKD), is a condition that causes kidney function to deteriorate over time. Two-thirds of all cases of CKD are caused by diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Risk Factors for Kidney Disease
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Diagnosing Kidney Disease
Treating Kidney Disease

Risk Factors for Kidney Disease
You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:

  • Are over 50
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Have a family history of kidney disease

Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease may cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle cramping at night
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • Puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • The need to urinate more often, especially at night.

Keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate conditions other than kidney disease. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated promptly.

Diagnosing Kidney Disease
According to the National Kidney Foundation, testing your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best way to measure your level of kidney function and determine your stage of kidney disease.

You will be asked to submit a blood sample, which the lab will analyze to check your level of creatinine, a waste product generated by your muscles. Your doctor will factor these results along with your age, race, gender and other factors to calculate your GFR. A GFR of 90 or above indicates normal kidney function or minimal kidney damage, while a score of 15 or below indicates that the kidneys are failing.

If your GFR indicates that you have kidney disease, your doctor will probably order further tests, which may include:

  • Ultrasound or CT scan, to see if the kidneys are too large or too small, or if you have a tumor, a kidney stone, or other problems in the structure of the kidneys
  • Biopsy, to see how much kidney damage has occurred

Your doctor will be able to explain your test results and use them to develop your treatment plan.

Treating Kidney Disease
The goal of treatments for chronic kidney disease is to prevent or slow down any further damage to the kidneys; your specific program of treatment may include:

  • Controlling diabetes and/or high blood pressure
  • Taking medications such as such as an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), which reduce protein levels in the urine
  • Following a healthy diet with prescribed levels of sodium, fluids and protein

Regular follow-up visits are another important part of treatment for kidney disease. Your doctor will order blood and urine tests on a regular basis to check your kidney function and adjust your diet or medication as needed.

If the disease progresses towards kidney failure, either you will need to have regular dialysis to keep your blood filtered or you will need a kidney transplant.

  • Dialysis is a process that uses a machine to perform the filtering work of healthy kidneys, including removing wastes and excess fluid and restoring the balance of chemicals in the blood. You may need to have dialysis for many years, or it may be used as a bridge to a kidney transplant.
  • Kidney Transplant replaces the function of your failing kidneys with a healthy kidney from a donor. (Learn more about kidney transplants)


Learn more about kidney disease and cancer:

To learn more about kidney disease and cancer treatments at Houston Methodist Urology Services or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-790-3333.