Some kidney problems may be temporary, or symptoms of other conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD, also known as kidney failure). An estimated 31 million Americans have kidney disease, but most of them do not know it because it has no symptoms in the early stages. In this section, learn more about kidney disease and kidney problems, kidney failure and how it is treated, and other kidney conditions.

About your kidneys

You cannot survive without your kidneys. They filter waste and extra water (fluid) out of your blood, but they also do many other important jobs that keep your body working the way it should. Learn more about your kidneys and how they keep you healthy.

Chronic kidney disease

The term “chronic kidney disease” means lasting damage to the kidneys that can get worse over time. If the damage is very bad, your kidneys may stop working. This is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live. Learn more about chronic kidney disease (CKD), its symptoms and complications, and what a kidney-friendly diet is like.

Kidney failure/ESRD

Kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. When your kidneys fail, it means they have stopped working well enough for you to survive without dialysis or a kidney transplant. Learn more about what causes kidney failure, its symptoms, the treatment options, complications and the ESRD diet.

Kidney problems

Some kidney problems can be early signs of chronic kidney disease (CKD), the type of kidney damage that can get worse over time and lead to kidney failure. Other kidney problems can lead to CKD if they are not treated. Knowing your body and contacting your health care provider when you notice something isn’t right can help you prevent bigger problems in the future. Learn about common kidney problems like kidney stones, blood or protein in urine, acute kidney injury, kidney infection and kidney pain.

Kidney donation

More than 100,000 people living with kidney failure are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, but there are not nearly enough kidneys available for all the people who need them. Most people can live with only one kidney. Learn more about donating a kidney.

HelpLine

Do you have questions about kidney disease or kidney failure? Send a question to our free HelpLine.

Other online information

For more information about kidney disease, kidney problems and other kidney conditions, see these websites.

Free kidney health screenings

Most cases of kidney disease could be prevented, and if it is caught early, its progression can often be slowed or stopped. Testing is the only way to know if your kidneys are working properly. See a list of free kidney health screenings from the American Kidney Fund.

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