The kidneys function as filters that remove waste products and excess fluids from the blood. These unnecessary substances are then excreted by the body through urination. When the kidneys are no longer able to function the way they should be, your body is most likely suffering from chronic renal failure or CRF (also known as chronic kidney disease or CKD). By the time this condition reaches an advanced stage, waste products can remain in the bloodstream and build up in the body, thus causing a higher level of damage to normal body functioning.

Chronic renal failure is qualified through five stages based on the glomerular filtration rate. Level 5 is considered as very severe or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The staging is very important to estimate the degree of impairment in kidney function. This is also used to determine the treatment that will be done.

It is said that in Canada, there are roughly 1.9-2.3 million people afflicted with CRF. A person with chronic renal failure will encounter problems of elimination, which, if left untreated, can possibly lead to more serious complication to the body.


Most cases of chronic renal failure are caused by other serious conditions that pose damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys, but there are also cases wherein the causes are not known. Two of the most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Diabetes is said to cause approximately 35% of all noted chronic renal failure cases. High levels of blood glucose in diabetes can damage blood vessels in the kidneys. If the glucose levels of a diabetic person are not managed properly, the damage can eventually lower the functioning of the kidneys.

High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the two major causes of chronic renal failure. It is accountable for approximately another 30% of all renal failures. High blood pressure causes further damage to the kidneys even when some other medical condition or disease has caused the kidneys to malfunction in the first place.

Other causes of kidney damage or failure include:

  • Recurring kidney (upper urinary tract) infections;
  • Polycystic kidney disease (presence of multiple cysts in the kidneys);
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filtration units);
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus or other auto-immune diseases;
  • Blockages in the urinary tract (due to kidney stones or an enlarged prostate); and
  • Excessive and long-term use of medications that can cause renal damage such as antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Signs and Symptoms

Chronic renal failure in its early stages may not manifest any signs or symptoms. However, blood work and urine tests conducted by your physician may confirm his suspicions of you having a kidney disease.

As the renal failure progresses, the following may be observed:

  • Changes in urination, may either be decrease or increased, somehow increased urination occurs especially during nighttime;
  • Water retention that causes puffiness in the hands, feet, and eyes (edema);
  • High blood pressure (hypertension);
  • Fatigue or having a general tired feeling;
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia) and/or unexplained weight loss;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Twitching of the muscles and cramping;
  • Itchy skin;
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain (due to accumulation of fluid in the lining of the heart); and
  • Sleep problems.

Once the kidney functioning gets worse and toxins continue to build up inside the body without proper elimination and management, a decrease in mental functioning (sometimes accompanied by seizures) may occur.

The signs and symptoms manifested by chronic renal failure are sometimes nonspecific to the disease as it can be caused by another underlying medical condition.


The target in treating chronic renal failure is to slow down the progress of the disease, thereby preventing further damage to the kidneys. And since kidney disease has no specific cure, treatment is used to relieve symptoms, slow down the progress of the disease, and reduce the risk of further damage and other complications. If the kidney failure is caused by some other medical condition such as diabetes or hypertension, it is best that this is addressed first.

The treatment for chronic renal failure is also dependent on the stage of the kidney disease. For the first three stages (which can be done by a general practitioner), treatment includes having lifestyle changes (especially in the diet), and following a medication regimen that will help you manage your hypertension, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Other medications include those that treat anemia, those that help reduce the swelling and water retention, and those that are meant to protect the bones from getting weak.

For those who have an advanced stage in renal failure, more drastic measures are called upon. Choices for treatment include dialysis and a kidney transplant.

Disability Tax Credits for Chronic Renal Failure

Being diagnosed with chronic renal failure can be scary, not only for you but also for your family. Allow our competent HandyTax agents to help ease your financial burden. With this condition, you are entitled to a disability tax refund from the Canadian Revenue Agency. Give us a call, so we can assist you with your disability claims.