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About Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, is becoming more common in Ontario as our population grows and ages.

A diagnosis of chronic kidney disease means the kidneys have not been working properly to remove wastes and extra fluids from the body for at least 3 months. Often, chronic kidney disease is caused by diseases that damage the kidneys’ filters, called nephrons.

Chronic kidney disease can continue to worsen. This is called “progression.” End-stage kidney disease is when kidney disease has progressed to a point where the person needs renal replacement therapy (a treatment to carry out the function of the kidneys when they are not working). Options include kidney transplant or dialysis. Another option is to have comprehensive conservative renal care, which does not include renal replacement therapy.

Who is at Risk

You may be at a higher risk of chronic kidney disease if you:

  • have diabetes or high blood pressure
  • have a family history of chronic kidney disease
  • are age 60 or older
  • are a member of one of these ethnic groups:
    • First Nations, Inuit and Métis
    • Asian
    • South Asian
    • Pacific Islander
    • African or Caribbean
    • Hispanic

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

Many conditions can cause your kidneys to fail. Some of these involve only the kidneys, while others affect the entire body. Conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease include:

  • diabetes
  • lupus
  • vascular diseases
  • infections, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, post-streptococcal disease or E. coli
  • some cancers, such as multiple myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia, or breast and bowel tumours
  • hereditary conditions, such as Alport syndrome or adult polycystic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease can also be caused by:

  • a blockage in the kidney
  • injury to the kidney
  • drugs that damage the kidneys such as chemotherapy or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.