Your kidneys are meant to filter out toxins and extra fluids that build up in your body. When the kidneys can no longer perform their main function, toxins build up in your system and make you sick. This is called chronic kidney disease.
One in nine people in the U.S. has kidney disease—and many of them don’t even know it. Often, chronic kidney disease doesn’t have any symptoms until it has progressed to a more advanced stage. Even then, the symptoms related to chronic kidney disease—like nausea, fatigue and trouble sleeping—can be mistaken for other illnesses. That’s why it’s important for you and your care team to monitor your kidney function with regular blood and urine tests if your doctor determines you’re at higher risk for chronic kidney disease.
Factors that increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Being overweight or obese
- Genetic background and family history
In the Sutter Health network, doctors who study kidney function will assess your kidneys and help you design a plan to keep them as healthy as possible.
Armed with leading-edge diagnostic tools and procedures, care teams can evaluate any problems with your kidneys. If your doctor suspects that there may be a problem, he or she may do an ultrasound to assess your kidneys’ shape and size. Your doctor may also collect a sample using a biopsy.
Your doctor may be able to treat the disease or help slow the progression, but a cure isn’t always possible. If your kidney disease has progressed beyond a certain point, you may require dialysis or kidney transplant.
If you need a transplant, the Sutter Health network offers a nationally ranked kidney transplant program. This program brings specialists to your geographic area and uses sophisticated technology to greatly reduce organ-donor wait times.
Sutter care centers also have classes and support groups that can help you manage the cause of your kidney disease and cope with its effects.