Kidney Disease

Can CKD happen with no symptoms?

Yes, often people with early stage CKD do not feel unwell and may not have any significant symptoms. You might only find out from a routine blood test that your kidneys are not working properly and that you need to start some treatment.

What causes CKD?

There are a lot of conditions that can damage your kidneys but often CKD is a consequence of the normal ageing process as kidneys scar gradually with age and are unable to repair themselves.

Here are some of the other common causes:

  • Diabetes – a condition in which there is too much sugar in the blood. It can be treated by insulin, tablets or diet. It is the single most common cause of CKD and usually occurs in people have had diabetes for longer than ten years. 
  • High blood pressure – also called hypertension. 
  • Glomerulonephritis – a general term meaning the kidneys become inflamed and damaged. The reason is often not known.
  • Pyelonephritis – an inflammation of the kidneys’ drainage system, usually caused by an infection. 
  • Renovascular disease – a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys. It is caused by smoking and too much cholesterol in the body. 
  • Obstructive nephropathy – a blockage in the flow of urine which causes damage to the kidneys, most common in men over 60. It is often caused by the prostate gland becoming enlarged. In rare cases it happens to women and is connected to gynaecological problems. 
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) – a condition which runs in families. If you have PKD you will have lumps, known as cysts, on your kidneys.

The National Kidney Federation website has information as well as leaflets about the different causes of kidney disease. In addition you will find more technical information on the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Information website.

Sometimes it is not possible to find out why your kidneys have failed but this does not usually affect your treatment.

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