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Understanding Kidney and Renal Disease


Kidney and renal disease may be often overlooked, but they can have profound effects on your life. If you suffer from these conditions, they can significantly reduce your quality of life and impact your longevity. 

These diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. While millions of people are diagnosed with the conditions, many more are suffering from kidney disease without even knowing about it. The CDC estimates that 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease (CKD), and 90 percent of them are undiagnosed.

As you read this article, you’ll learn why it’s so important to identify and diagnose kidney disease early. These undiagnosed cases represent a significant health crisis.

And from a healthcare benefits perspective, kidney disease ranks among the most expensive conditions, especially in its advanced stages. This ultimately affects the entire healthcare industry.

Let’s take some time to better understand how your kidneys impact your life. That will demonstrate why it’s so important to pay attention to kidney and renal disease.

What Is the Vital Role of Kidneys?

The kidneys serve two primary functions. Firstly, they maintain fluid balance in the body. Some of the obvious fluids are blood and urine. The kidneys also have to manage the fluid that exists in between your cells. That’s a critically important job!

The second and equally important job for your kidneys is to monitor the salt solutions in your body. These salts, primarily sodium and potassium, are controlled by hormones. Your kidneys are leading the charge to provide feedback and control on those levels.

Understanding kidney and renal disease begins with understanding these functions.

What Are the Causes of Kidney Failure?

If that helps you understand what your kidneys do, now it’s time to understand why kidneys fail. How can things go wrong? Broadly speaking, kidney failure can be attributed to two main causes: diseases and toxins. 

Starting with diseases, the primary disease that can cause kidney failure is diabetes. The second – which used to be number one, and is still a close runner-up – is high blood pressure (hypertension).

On the toxins side, remember that one of the primary functions of the kidney is to take care of fluids. Over our lifetime, we’re exposed to toxins like heavy metals and even some medications. The kidney is supposed to filter toxins and get rid of them through urine. Your body relies on the kidney to remove waste.

Insufficient renal function can very dangerously affect the kidney and cause it to start to fail.

Another cause of kidney failure that must be mentioned, of course, is the natural aging process. As we get older, everything, including our kidneys, starts to get less efficient.

What Are the Stages of Kidney Failure?

Kidney disease is described in a series of stages, in order of severity. They go from Stage 1 all the way to the most serious: Stage 5. As the stages progress, the kidneys begin to prematurely age. Their filtering ability diminishes, resulting in more and more complications. Here is a brief summary to help with understanding the stages of kidney failure:

  • Stage 1: This is the mildest stage. At this point there may be some damage to your nephrons, which are the filtering units in the kidney. They are very fragile – just one cell thick – so damage can cause protein to leak into your urine.
  • Stage 2: At this stage of kidney disease, there is some mild damage to your kidneys. They will operate less efficiently, but probably still perform well enough to not notice symptoms. Testing, however, might reveal protein in the urine.
  • Stage 3: As damage increases, the kidneys are now having a hard time performing their important functions. When they fall behind, you may notice other symptoms such as high blood pressure or fatigue.
  • Stage 4: The kidneys are no longer functioning effectively. In addition to the high blood pressure you may have noticed in Stage 3, further symptoms can include bone disease, heart disease, and lower back pain.
  • Stage 5: Stage 5 kidney failure is the most severe phase. The kidneys even lose their ability to concentrate and eliminate your own natural toxins produced during metabolism. This stage necessitates dialysis, a process that filters and cleanses the blood externally.

Life at Stage 5 Kidney Failure

Reaching stage 5 kidney failure entails a life heavily reliant on dialysis or, if eligible, a kidney transplant. Dialysis treatments are typically performed every other or possibly every third day. They require patients to spend hours connected to a machine in a designated center. 

This ongoing procedure can make daily life challenging and leave individuals feeling unwell between sessions. Dialysis is not a short-term treatment, either. It will continue for the rest of your life, unless you qualify for a kidney transplant.

While kidney transplantation is an alternative to dialysis, it’s not easy, either. Just getting one involves an exhaustive waiting period. And once you have a new kidney, you still have to worry about organ rejection. To prevent your body’s immune system from attacking the kidney, you will need to take medication for the rest of your life.

What Does Kidney Disease Cost?

Understanding what kidney disease is and how it impacts our lives physically is only half of the story. Not only does kidney disease significantly impact your quality of life, but it also creates a tremendous financial burden. 

Dialysis machines alone can range from $70,000 to $500,000 per year. The monthly cost of dialysis for a single person regularly exceeds $23,000.

This expense poses a considerable challenge to both individuals and healthcare systems. It highlights the urgent need for solutions to address both the cost and health crises associated with kidney disease.


Kidney and renal disease have far-reaching consequences for both individuals and healthcare systems. The good news is that Curally can help! Speak with our team today to learn how our nurses and medical director have worked with participants suffering from these conditions. We’ve seen people make miraculous turnarounds

Learn how Curally can help you and others in your organization live a healthier, happier life.