Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease

The kidneys are essential for health. Kidneys filter the blood, eliminate waste, and play a role in the production of red blood cells. Kidney disease decreases the body’s ability to keep electrolytes in balance. As kidney damage progresses through the stages of chronic kidney disease, the effects can become fatal.

There are five stages of chronic kidney disease. The separation of the stages are based on the level of kidney function which is measured by the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The stage of kidney disease is solely based on the amount of damage regardless of the type or cause of the kidney damage.

Stage one of kidney disease is described as kidney damage with normal or close to normal kidney functioning. A GFR score of over ninety is considered normal. During stage one of this condition, the person may not be experiencing any symptoms.

A mild decrease in kidney functioning occurs in stage two kidney disease. The GFR for stage two is sixty to eighty-nine. Most people are still unaware of their kidney disease during stage two since the kidneys are still functioning fairly well. People in stage two do not usually have any kidney damage symptoms.

People in the third stage of chronic kidney disease have a moderate impairment in kidney functioning. The glomerular filtration rate during the third stage is thirty to fifty-nine. The symptoms during this stage can cause overall swelling, fatigue, and foamy or dark urine. People in stage three may have trouble sleeping and struggle with tiredness.

The fourth stage is described as severe kidney dysfunction. The GFR measures fifteen to twenty-nine during the fourth stage. At this level of functioning, the person needs to have dialysis to remove waste. The doctor may put the patient on a special low-salt diet. Since people in these stages of chronic kidney disease may not urinate much or at all if on dialysis, they may not be able to drink a lot between dialysis sessions.

Symptoms tend to worsen in stage four. The kidney disease may cause the person to feel sick to the stomach and cause vomiting.  Difficulty concentrating and loss of appetite may develop. The person may have bad breath and changes in taste. The person may experience numbness or tingling in the toes and fingers.

Kidney failure is the fifth stage of kidney disease. This stage sometimes is called end stage kidney disease. The GFR is less than fifteen or requires dialysis during the fifth stage of chronic kidney disease. In the last stage of kidney disease, the person will need to continue dialysis or receive a kidney transplant. Throughout the stages of chronic kidney disease, the doctor may make changes to the patient’s treatment to help slow the progression of the disease.

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