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Glossary of Kidney Disease Terms

Updated: Jul 5

Understanding the terminology associated with kidney disease is crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. This glossary provides clear definitions of key terms related to kidney disease to help you navigate conversations and literature about the condition more effectively.

kidney illustration with a clean and professional background, subtle medical theme

Definitions of Kidney Disease Terms

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

  • Definition: A long-term condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time.

  • Details: CKD is often caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and other disorders. It can lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) if not managed properly.

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)

  • Definition: A sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or days.

  • Details: AKI causes waste products to build up in the blood and can be fatal if not treated promptly. It is often reversible if addressed quickly.


  • Definition: Inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys (glomeruli).

  • Details: This condition can lead to kidney damage and is often caused by infections, autoimmune diseases, or chronic conditions like diabetes.


  • Definition: Damage to or disease of the kidney.

  • Details: This term is often used to describe kidney disease resulting from diabetes (diabetic nephropathy) or high blood pressure (hypertensive nephropathy).


  • Definition: The presence of excess proteins in the urine.

  • Details: Proteinuria is a sign of kidney damage and is often an early indicator of kidney disease. It can be detected through a urine test.


  • Definition: The presence of blood in the urine.

  • Details: Hematuria can be a sign of kidney disease, infection, or other medical conditions. It can be either visible (gross hematuria) or detected through a urine test (microscopic hematuria).

End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

  • Definition: The final stage of chronic kidney disease, where the kidneys no longer function properly.

  • Details: ESRD requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. It is diagnosed when kidney function is below 10-15% of normal capacity.


  • Definition: A doctor who specializes in kidney care and treating diseases of the kidneys.

  • Details: Nephrologists manage dialysis, kidney transplantation, and the medical treatment of kidney diseases.


  • Definition: A waste product produced by muscles and excreted by the kidneys.

  • Details: Elevated creatinine levels in the blood can indicate impaired kidney function. It is commonly measured to assess kidney health.

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)

  • Definition: A test used to check how well the kidneys are working.

  • Details: GFR estimates the amount of blood filtered by the glomeruli each minute. It is a key indicator of kidney function.

Detailed kidney illustration with a clean and professional background,


Having a clear understanding of these terms can help you better manage kidney disease, whether you are a patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider. For more detailed information on specific aspects of kidney disease, check out our other blog posts linked below.

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This blog is AI written and human edited

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