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What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

It is the gradual loss of kidney function over a period of months or years. Kidneys filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood, which are then expelled in your urine. When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes can build up in your body, causing an individual to become very ill.

How is kidney disease treated?

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, however, there are two forms of treatment options: dialysis or kidney transplantation. Two types of dialysis that are commonly used today are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Many people with kidney disease opt for a transplant to avoid repeated dialysis treatments.

What kind of medication do I take for kidney disease and how is it paid for?

If you have prescription coverage, your insurance will pay for part of your medications. Be sure to discuss the amount of coverage with a representative from the insurance company, who will explain your plan in greater detail. If you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, a portion of your medications may be covered by these programs. The Kidney Foundation of Ohio offers medication assistance to those who qualify.

How can I prevent kidney disease?

Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise can assist in the prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease. Changing your lifestyle choices and behaviors can ultimately prevent individuals from developing the disease. Reducing sodium intake, limiting red meats, avoiding sugar-sweetened drinks and eliminating processed foods all contribute to a healthier lifestyle.


What are the symptoms or warning signs of CKD?

Signs and symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, ammonia breath or an ammonia/metal taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, fatigue or weakness, back pain, changes in urination, swelling of feet, ankles, hands or face, persistent itching, shortness of breath, high blood pressure (hypertension) or untreated diabetes or anemia.

Kidney disease often has no symptoms until the disease has advanced. If you are concerned about exhibiting any of the symptoms above, contact your physician to get tested.

What is dialysis and how is it paid for?

Dialysis is a treatment for kidney disease that filters and purifies your blood using a machine. Hemodialysis is the most common method to treat kidney failure and can be performed at a dialysis clinic or in the home. Medicare will pay for 80% of the cost of dialysis and the remaining 20% is the patient's responsibility. If you are covered under medical insurance, the company may pay the remaining 20%. If not, you will be personally responsible unless or until you qualify for Medicaid, which will pick up the remaining 20%.

Do I need to be on a certain diet?

Healthy food choices and eating a well-balanced diet is important for everyone. Maintaining a kidney-friendly meal plan limits how much of certain minerals and fluid you eat and drink. There is not one plan that is right for everyone with kidney disease. Talk to your doctor or social worker about meeting with a Registered Dietitian for more information and creating a plan that is personalized for you.


Who is at risk of developing kidney disease?

Anyone can be diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, at any age. However, African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians are at an increased risk for developing the disease. You may also be at increased risk if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of Chronic Kidney Disease and being 60 years of age or older. If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about getting tested for kidney disease.

How can my doctor diagnose kidney disease?

Two procedures doctors can perform to check for kidney disease are blood and urine tests. Diagnosis of kidney failure can be confirmed by blood tests to measure levels of waste products and electrolytes in your blood. Urine tests may be performed to measure the amount of protein, detect the presence of abnormal cells, or measure the concentration of electrolytes.

What is a kidney transplant and how can I receive one?

A kidney transplant is an operation to place a healthy (donor) kidney in your body to perform the functions your own diseased kidneys can no longer perform. However, there is a shortage of organs available for donation. Many people who are candidates for kidney transplantation are put on a transplant waiting list and require dialysis until an organ is available.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are crystals formed as a result of imbalanced mineral levels in the urine. Causes can consist of genetics, excess calcium or other minerals in your diet, certain medications, or dehydration. Typically, treatment consists of drinking lots of water to pass the stone. Medical procedures may be needed to remove or break up larger stones. Sometimes following a special diet may help prevent more stones from forming. Other times, medications, in addition to a special diet, may be needed.

How can I become an organ donor?

To register as an organ donor in the state of Ohio, visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles website. Nearly half of all drivers in Ohio are registered as organ donors. There are over 119,000 Americans and 3,000 Ohioans waiting for an organ transplant. Seventy-five percent of those people are waiting for a kidney.
If you have specific medical questions, speak with a physician or medical professional.