About your kidneys

What do your kidneys do?

  • Remove waste products and balance minerals. Your kidneys help remove waste products from your blood such as urea and creatinine. They also help to adjust the level of minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium in your body.
  • Regulate water. Your kidneys can remove excess water from your body or retain water when needed.
  • Produce hormones. Your kidneys produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, red blood cell production, and calcium balance in your body.

What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease is when there is a decreased level of kidney function, or decreased ability of the kidney to filter toxins from the body, for a period of three months or longer. It can range from mild to severe, with some people progressing to end stage kidney disease (where dialysis or transplant is required to maintain health).

What causes chronic kidney disease?

Some of the more common causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation within the kidney (glomerulonephritis), and genetic disease such as polycystic kidney disease.

What are the symptoms of chronic kidney disease?

You might not notice any symptoms at first. As your kidney function decreases, you might experience symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • nausea and reduced appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • depression
  • itching
  • restless legs

What can you do to slow progression?

The progression of chronic kidney disease to end-stage kidney disease can often be slowed by careful management of diabetes and high blood pressure. Lifestyle factors such as smoking discontinuation can be helpful. Specific medications may be recommended by your kidney doctor. Please discuss ways to support your kidney health with all members of your healthcare team.

For more information on chronic kidney disease, please visit:

Additional information on living with reduced kidney function are available at: