National Kidney Foundation

Kidney Smart

About Kidney Disease

Five Stages Of Kidney Disease

Increased risk of Chronic Kidney Disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney disease. The risk increases with age: People over 65 are more than twice as likely to develop 

Chronic Kidney Disease as people between the ages of 45 and 65. African Americans also have a higher risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease.

Stage 1:  Kidney damage may be detected before your blood levels start to decline. In this first stage of kidney disease, the goals of treatment are to slow the progression of Chronic Kidney Disease and reduce the risk of other health problems.
Stage 2:  Kidney damage with mild decrease in Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) of (60 to 89). When kidney function starts to decline, your health care provider will estimate the progression of your Chronic Kidney Disease and continue treatment to reduce the risk of other health problems.
Stage 3: Moderate decrease in Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) of (30 to 59). When Chronic Kidney Disease has advanced to this stage, anemia and bone problems become more common. Work with your health care provider to prevent or threat these complications.
Stage 4:  Severe reduction in Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) of (15 to 29). Continue following the treatment for complications of Chronic Kidney Disease and learn as much as you can about the treatments for kidney failure. Each treatment requires preparation. If you choose Hemodialysis, you will need to have a procedure to make a vein in your arm larger and stronger for repeated needle insertions. For peritoneal dialysis, you will need to have a catheter placed in your abdomen. Or you may want to ask family or friends to consider donating a kidney for transplantation.
Stage 5:  Kidney failure Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is less than 15. When the kidneys do not work well enough to maintain life, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Detecting Kidney Disease

What Medical Testing Can Detect Kidney Disease? 

  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Microalbuminuria and Proteinuria or urine sample
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate (FGR) based on a bun and creatinine measurement.  These levels are determined with an easy urine and blood test that can be done at your primary care physician's office
  • Renal Imaging:  CT Scan-MRI-Renal Ultrasound
  • Renal Biopsy:  Hospital procedure to obtain sample of the diseased kidney tissue.

Not every patient will require all testing.  Your doctor can discuss these tests in more depth at your consultation with the Nephrologist, after you are referred by your primary care physician.

Warning Signs of Kidney Disease

  • Swelling of parts of the body, particularly around the eyes, ankles and wrists.
  • Lower back pain, where the kidneys are located.
  • Burning sensation during urination.
  • Bloody, foamy or coffee-colored urine.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Change in the frequency of urination.
  • Feeling extremely tired.

If any of these symptoms occur singly or in combination, consult your primary care physician immediately.

Points To Remember

  • Your kidneys are vital organs that keep your blood clean and chemically balanced.
  • The progression of kidney disease can be slowed, but it cannot always be reversed.
  • End Stage Renal Disease is the total loss of kidney function.
  • Dialysis and transplantation can extend the lives of people with End Stage Renal Disease.
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney failure.
  • You should see a Nephrologist regularly if you have renal disease.
  • You must have a referral and recent lab work from your primary care physician before seeing a Nephrologist.
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