Kidney conditions

Managing chronic kidney disease

Understand all the steps you can take to help manage your condition today and tomorrow.

Measuring kidney function

To understand how well your kidneys are working, your doctor looks at your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which measures how well your kidneys are working.1 This number helps detect and diagnose CKD, track its progression over time, and make decisions about your treatment plan.

Measuring GFR precisely requires a complex and time-consuming procedure. Typically, your doctor will determine an estimated GFR (eGFR) by combining your age, sex, body type, and race.1

How your condition is progressing depends on your eGFR, as well as urine tests and risk factors.1

GFR category1

GFR level1



≥ 90




Mildly decreased



Mildly to moderately decreased



Moderately to severely decreased



Severely decreased


< 15

Kidney failure

Potential complications

It’s important to be aware of how CKD can affect your body over time. Potential complications of CKD may include fluid retention and swelling, heart disease, anemia, and a lowered immune response. Not everyone experiences these complications. 

If complications do occur, treatments are available. They include2:

  • Medications to lower blood pressure
  • Medications to relieve swelling (diuretics)
  • Medications for anemia and fatigue (erythropoietin)
  • Medications to reduce cholesterol (statins)
  • Medications to protect bones (calcium and vitamin D)
  • Lower-protein diet to minimize waste products in the blood

Ultimately, you may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Slowing the progress of CKD

Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices may be able to slow the progress of your condition. These choices help prevent your kidneys from working too hard.3

  • Healthy weight
  • Daily activity
  • Balanced, low-sodium diet
  • Controlled blood pressure
  • Annual cholesterol check
  • Controlled blood sugar
  • No smoking
  • Regular checkups
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Overcoming the challenges of CKD

Living with CKD can be difficult. The good news is there are many kinds of support available during your journey. Here are a few steps you can take to get the support you need.

Reduce stress.

Staying active is always a good option. You may also want to try medication or simply enjoying your favorite music, podcasts, books, and movies.

Ask for help.

If you start to feel overwhelmed, reach out. Talk to a trusted friend or family member or a mental health professional.

Talk to peers.

You’re not alone on your journey. Join a CKD support group or talk to someone who has been living with CKD through the NKF Peers Program.

Stay in touch.

Regular checkups with your doctor and kidney specialist (nephrologist) will help you understand what stage you are in and what to do next.



Blood test: eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate). American Kidney Fund. Available at: Accessed on October 31, 2023.


Chronic kidney disease: Diagnosis & treatment. Mayo Clinic. Available at: Accessed on October 31, 2023.


End-stage renal disease: Symptoms & causes. Mayo Clinic. Available at: Accessed on October 31, 2023.