Kidney disease care at every step
Getting treatment for your kidney disease helps you feel your best
What do the kidneys do?
Your kidneys are a pair of small, bean-shaped organs located on each side of your body, slightly below your ribs. They play an essential role in your body’s functioning, including:
- Removing toxins and waste from your blood
- Regulating your blood pressure
- Maintaining your body’s supply of red blood cells
- Keeping your bones healthy
What is kidney disease?
Also known as renal disease, kidney disease impacts how well your kidneys work. When your kidneys become damaged, it’s harder for them to do their job. Left untreated, kidney disease may increase your risk of kidney failure.
There are a few different types of kidney disease, including:
- Chronic kidney disease – Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual loss of kidney function over time.
- Kidney stones – Growths made up of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. These small, pebble-like objects develop when your urine becomes highly concentrated.
- Polycystic kidney disease – This genetic condition happens when clusters of cysts form inside your kidneys.
- Hematuria – Blood in your urine typically caused by an infection.
- Proteinuria – A buildup of protein in your urine.
- Glomerulonephritis – An inflammation of the tiny filters inside your kidneys.
- Renal vascular disease – Various conditions affecting the blood vessels inside your kidneys.
- End-stage renal disease – The final stage of kidney disease, also known as kidney failure.
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
In its early stages, kidney disease may not show any symptoms. However, for different stages of kidney disease, symptoms vary and may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of feet or ankles
- Itchy skin
- Increased urination
- High blood pressure that’s hard to control
- Foam or blood in your urine
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle cramps or twitching
Just because you have some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have kidney disease. If you’re having symptoms, it’s still important to speak to your doctor to rule out other health conditions.
What causes kidney disease?
Certain behaviors, genetics and risk factors can increase your chances of developing kidney disease. These include:
- High blood pressure: One-third of American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension increases the risk of developing kidney disease.
- Diabetes: Those with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop kidney disease than those who don’t have the condition.
- Being overweight: People who have excess body fat — especially around the waist area — are more likely to develop kidney disease, even if they have no other risk factors.
- Infections: Infections in your kidney can affect their function.
- Family history: If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with kidney disease, you’re at a greater risk for developing it.
- Age: The risk of developing kidney disease increases with age.
- Race: Those of Asian, African American or Native American descent have a higher chance of developing kidney disease.
- Other risk factors: Other risk factors that can increase the risk of kidney disease include:
- Having abnormal kidney structure
- Certain autoimmune diseases
- Kidney injury
- Overuse of certain pain relievers
- Having kidney cancer
How is kidney disease diagnosed?
Our team of kidney specialists is experienced in diagnosing and treating kidney disease. We offer screening tests that use the most advanced technology to better detect kidney disease, including:
- Imaging tests – Your doctor might perform an X-ray, a more in-depth computed tomography (CT) scan or an ultrasound to get a closer look at your kidneys.
- Blood tests – Blood tests can tell your doctor if you have a high amount of certain substances in your blood, such as creatine or urea.
- Urine tests – Your doctor might collect a urine sample to see if you have a type of protein known as albumin in your urine.
- Biopsy – During a biopsy, your doctor will remove a small tissue sample using a thin needle or during a surgical procedure. The tissue is examined beneath a microscope to detect any abnormal cells in your kidneys.
Kidney disease treatment
Depending on the type and severity of your kidney disease, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
You can make several lifestyle changes that your doctor may suggest to reduce kidney disease symptoms. These may include:
- Quitting smoking
- Control blood pressure
- Losing weight
- Changing your diet
Care for kidney disease at Geisinger
Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate care and the most advanced kidney disease treatments available. We offer:
- The knowledge you need – Your nephrology team includes doctors and specialists with years of training and experience. Their expertise has been honed by treating many people with kidney disease every year. Their focus is on delivering the care best suited to your needs.
- Excellent care where you live – Offering care throughout central, northeast and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced nephrology team provides consultations and comprehensive care. You’ll get leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally recognized health system.
- Genetic testing and counseling programs – Genetics programs can determine whether you face a higher-than-normal risk of kidney disease. Special programs such as MyCode®, which are only available at Geisinger, detect the earliest signs of kidney disease so you can start treatment right away. Our care and guidance may even help you avoid a kidney disease diagnosis. Learn more or sign up for MyCode.