Patient Education by Southwest Virginia Nephrology Medicine, PC  

What is the Role and Functions of Kidneys?   

Your kidneys are a pair of vital organs that are located towards your lower back with one kidney on each side of your spine. The kidneys filter excess fluids as well as wastes from of your blood to form urine that is sent to the bladder. The urine is discharged from the kidneys through the ureters, through the bladder, and then out the urethra during urination.
Your kidneys also release and respond to hormones that help to:

  • Regulate blood pressure,
  • Make red blood cells that keep your bones healthy,
  • Prevent anemia by increasing red blood cells,
  • Regulate body water, and
  • Maintain the balance of important electrolytes in your blood such as potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium.

What is Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease is any alteration in normal kidney function: failure to clear products that should, spilling or wasting products that shouldn’t, and failure to maintain volume. Disruption of function of any part of the kidney is called kidney injury, which may be reversible, called acute renal failure, if addressed early, or irreversible if long term. Long term Kidney Injury is commonly called chronic kidney disease, and can lead to health problems outside the kidney, and can be progressive. Defending on the severity of the problem, it can be life-threatening if not controlled.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?


Kidney damage for most people occurs slowly over several years, often due to diabetes or high blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) or renal disease When abnormal kidney function persists for three months or longer, chronic kidney disease occurs.

Often, chronic kidney disease is diagnosed as a result of screening of people known to be at risk of kidney problems, such as those with high blood pressure or diabetes and those with a relative with CKD.
Chronic kidney disease is typically managed with:

  • Treatment of associative conditions (such as diabetes),
  • Avoidance of substances toxic to the kidneys,
  • Diet and weight modification, and
  • Preferably preventing end-stage kidney failure.

Chronic kidney disease can also occur or progress to a more severe state, by at least any of the following, in increasing risk as listed:

  • Acute renal failure in prior normal kidney function,
  • Acute renal failure on chronic kidney disease,
  • Advanced chronic kidney failure,
  • Heavy persistent Proteinuria, and
  • Chronic kidney disease with heavy proteinuria.

What is End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD)?

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) or end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) Occurs when the functioning of the kidneys deteriorates to the extent that symptoms of uremia develop, blood constituents become medically unmanageable, or fluid is retained, and occurs at less than 15% or less on an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) graded bases, see States of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) (click here).
Kidney disease is a growing problem and anyone can develop kidney disease, regardless of sex, race or age.

Are you at risk for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

If you feel you are at risk for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and need a Nephrologist, please call Southwest Virginia Nephrology Medicine in Roanoke, Virginia at (540) 904.5366 or complete the contact us form (click here). We provide specialized Nephrology services in Virginia and West Virginia, including Roanoke, Salem, Franklin County and Botetourt County.