ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The kidney removes waste and extra water from the blood and helps regulate the chemistry of the blood, as well as hormonal functions.

Kidney disease can be caused by a number of things. The number one cause is diabetes, but other causes include hypertension, lupus, and toxicity from medication. It can also be genetic.

Dr. Conrad Deel at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital says it's not always obvious when you have kidney disease.

"Kidney disease usually doesn't cause symptoms unless it is fairly advanced," he said.

As a result, most kidney disease is detected by routine lab work like blood or urine testing.

While kidney disease typically doesn't show symptoms, some people do have them.

"We do see patients sometimes that do show up with symptoms from kidney disease, those might be swelling in the ankles and legs, fluid retention, it might be itching," Deel said.

There are some ways to help control kidney disease. Deel has some advice for patients.

"Maintain excellent control of your blood pressure and blood sugar, follow up with your primary care doctor, limit the sodium content of your diet, and if needed, follow up with a kidney specialist," he said.

There are options for the approximately 20,000 Virginians and 750,000 Americans with advanced kidney disease.

"There are several classes of medication shown to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease," Deel said. "There are lots of options in terms of slowing or preventing the progression of kidney disease and if the kidney disease does progress, that transplantation and dialysis."

To learn more about kidney disease, click here.