Chronic Kidney Disease Causes

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) usually occurs as a result of other health conditions that put additional stress on the kidneys and may lead to damage. For example, the majority of cases are caused by diabetes or hypertension, although there are various other causes that may be responsible for the condition.

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Diabetes is characterized by an excess concentration of glucose in the blood, which can damage many organs in the body, including the kidneys. When there is a build-up of glucose in the blood, it can damage the glomerulus in the kidney and affect the filtration of both fluid and waste products.

Insulin plays an integral role in the regulation of glucose in the bloodstream. There are two main types of diabetes, which are classified according to the cause of excess blood glucose in relation to insulin. To this end, there is either reduced production of insulin or inefficiency of insulin in the body. Both of these types of diabetes are associated with an increased risk of CKD.


Hypertension, which is commonly known as high blood pressure, can increase the load on the kidneys to filter the blood and cause damage to the organ over time. CKD can also lead to an increase in blood pressure; as a result, approximately 90% of patients with CKD stage 3 or higher have hypertension.

The cause of high blood pressure in the vast majority of cases is unknown, although it appears to be closely linked to the diet and lifestyle habits of the individual. People who are inactive, overweight, have a poor diet, or a stressful lifestyle are most likely to be affected.


Glomerulonephritis is a condition involving inflammation of the glomerulus, which plays an important role in the filtration of blood into the kidney. If the glomerulus becomes inflamed and damaged, there can be a decline in kidney function, which can subsequently lead to the development of CKD.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that involves an attack on the kidney tissue as if it were foreign tissue. This can therefore cause damage to the glomerular tissue and lead to CKD.

Recurrent infections

Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) or pyelonephritis can also cause reduced kidney function and CKD. This is most common in people who are susceptible to infection in the area and experience UTIs on a regular basis.

Congenital malformations

Certain congenital malformations involve abnormalities in the anatomy of the kidneys, which may prevent the normal outflow of urine. This can lead to the flow back of urine and an increased risk of recurrent UTIs.

Renal obstructions

An obstruction in the urinary tract can disrupt the flow of urine through the kidney and has the potential to increase the risk of CKD.

For example, kidney stones, tumors, and an enlarged prostate gland can cause CKD in some cases. Additionally, large renal cysts that are often associated with polycystic kidney disease can have a similar impact and damage the surrounding tissue.


Chronic use of some medications including lithium and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen can lead to damage to the kidneys and reduced organ function.

This is not a complete list of all causes of CLD; instead, this article is intended as a guide for some of the most common reasons for the presentation of the disease.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Yolanda Smith

Written by

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


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