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Types of kidney disease

There are two main types of kidney disease - short-term (acute kidney injury) and lifelong (chronic). Find out more about each and what they can mean for you.

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The two main types of kidney disease are short-term (acute kidney injury) and lifelong (chronic kidney disease). Most people recover fully from a short-term kidney disease, but it can increase their risk of developing a chronic kidney disease later in life.

Acute kidney injury (short-term)

An acute kidney injury is the temporary loss of kidney function lasting less than three months. It typically has a fast onset, in response to an injury or illness affecting the kidneys, drugs, blockages of the kidney or many other factors. Some people will need a short course of dialysis to help their kidneys recover.

Many people fully recover from an acute kidney injury and go on to live a normal life. However, if significant damage has been caused, there is a higher risk of developing chronic (or ongoing) kidney disease later on.

Because of this, if you have had an acute kidney injury, it’s important to properly monitor the health of your kidneys for the rest of your life. One way to do this is by staying on top of your diet and nutrition. You should also have your kidney function checked every two years by your GP.

Chronic kidney disease (lifelong)

Chronic kidney disease occurs when your kidneys have been damaged in a way that cannot be reversed. To be diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease, the condition will need to have been present for at least three months.

You can live a normal life for many years with chronic kidney disease. However, many people will experience a continued decline in their kidney’s ability to filter their blood and will eventually need kidney replacement therapy. This may be in the form of dialysis or a kidney transplant.

There are many potential causes for chronic kidney diseases, including genetics, infection, immune disorders that attack your kidneys, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Knowing which type you have

If you have kidney disease or another kidney condition, ask your healthcare professional to clearly explain what type you have, what caused it, how best to look after your kidneys, and what your condition means for you and your lifestyle.

The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to manage and potentially minimise the ongoing progression of your condition.

If your kidney function has been reduced for more than three months, it’s likely you have chronic kidney disease. For more information on the different types of kidney disease and what they can mean for you, please get in contact with us. You can also find out more using our fact sheets on chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injuries.

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