What is chronic kidney disease? Chronic kidney disease is a disease in which the kidneys progressively stop working over time. This means that waste and excess water are not properly removed from the bloodstream. The disease commonly affects people with diabetes and high blood pressure, but can affect others as well. Two in every 1,000 people in the United States have chronic kidney disease (Source: NIH). Chronic kidney disease is progressive, meaning that it worsens over time. You may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of chronic kidney disease. As the disease progresses, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, general feelings of illness, headaches, unexplained weight loss, and nausea. Middle stage symptoms include pain, confusion, muscle twitching, numbness and tingling, bad breath, bruising, bleeding, unusual thirst, sleep disorders, edema (swelling), and vomiting. The last stage of chronic kidney disease is known as end stage renal disease, or kidney failure. Treatment for chronic kidney disease includes medications, such as angiotensin receptor blockers (to lower blood pressure) or phosphate binders (medications that prevent dangerously high levels of phosphorus in the body). Iron supplements may be used to prevent anemia (low red blood cell count), and other supplements may be useful in boosting depleted vitamin levels. Once chronic kidney disease has progressed to its final stages, dialysis or even kidney transplant may be necessary. While there is no cure, chronic kidney disease can be managed. If you suspect you may have chronic kidney disease, it is vitally important to seek prompt medical care to retard progression of the disease. Changes in your lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking, may also help prevent or control chronic kidney disease. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have serious symptoms, such as confusion, easy bleeding or bruising, difficulty breathing, inability to urinate, or bloody stool. Seek prompt medical care if you have persistent symptoms of chronic kidney disease or if, for any reason, you suspect you may have chronic kidney disease. Early diagnosis requires simple blood and urine tests, and is critical for ensuring a good outcome.