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Are you among the 1 in 3 people at risk for kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which your kidneys become damaged and gradually lose their ability to filter blood properly so that waste and excess fluid can be excreted in your urine. When this happens, dangerous levels of waste and fluid can build up in your body, making you feel sick.

Over time, kidney disease can contribute to other health conditions. It may also lead to kidney failure. Once this happens, you will either need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

This serious health condition is often not on people’s radar, but it should be. It’s more common than you may think. About one in three adults in the U.S. are at risk for developing kidney disease. More than one in seven adults already have the disease. But approximately 90% of the people who have the condition don’t know they have it.

The best way to know for sure if you have kidney disease is through blood and/or urine tests that measure kidney function. Imaging tests or biopsies may also be recommended.

“Imaging screenings are a great tool for us to investigate your kidneys,” said Cheryl B. Clayton, MD, a nephrologist on the medical staff at Maury Regional Health. “We can assess what your kidneys look like and make sure they’re getting the proper blood flow.”

Maury Regional Health offers self-scheduled imaging screenings of the kidney, gallbladder, liver, pancreas and thyroid, and they do not require a physician’s order.

How do I know if I have kidney disease?

“Most people don’t have symptoms in the early stages of kidney disease,” Dr. Clayton said. “That’s why screenings are so valuable, especially if you are at a higher risk for developing kidney disease.”

Symptoms of more advanced kidney disease may include:

  • Swollen feet/ankles
  • Fatigue/sleep problems
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Urinating too much or too little
  • Nausea/vomiting/loss of appetite
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Erectile dysfunction or reduced sex drive
  • Shortness of breath (due to fluid in the lungs)
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Anemia
  • Weak bones
  • Hard-to-control high blood pressure

What increases my risk for kidney disease?

The two most common causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Age 60 or older
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Being African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander

What happens if I have kidney disease?

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but treatment focuses on slowing progression of the damage to your kidneys. Controlling the conditions that cause kidney damage is the first line of defense.

To learn more and find a physician at Maury Regional Health who specializes in kidney health, visit

Cheryl B. Clayton, MD, is a nephrologist on the medical staff at Maury Regional Health associated with Nephrology Associates.

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Date Last Reviewed: January 19, 2023
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
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