Chronic Kidney Disease and the Different Stages

What is chronic kidney disease, and what are the 5 different stages of CKD? We talk about that along with the symptoms in this article. Click the link to learn more.

Kidneys are often quietly busy removing toxins from our bodies, depositing the toxins into the bladder for removal. When all is well, they aren’t even something that we think about.

However, they quickly draw attention to themselves should they suffer from chronic kidney disease and the different stages that they might suffer. In this article, we’re going to talk about these stages of kidney disease (or kidney failure), and also talk about the treatment.

Overall, What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

First of all, the terms chronic kidney disease and kidney failure are synonymous. Both denote a gradual loss of kidney function and are inter used depending on who you’re talking to, or where you’re researching.

When the kidneys begin to fail due to chronic kidney disease, dangerous levels of fluid may be produced, or waste may build up in the body rather than flushing through the kidneys. Unfortunately, the signs of kidney failure are not evident until one reaches an advanced level of failure. 

CKD Symptoms

The following symptoms heavily rely on the level of CKD failure a person is suffering. The loss of proper kidney function can cause one to suffer:

  • Itchy Skin
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Dry Skin
  • Heavier Urinating as well as a Lack of Urinating
  • Sleeping Issues
  • Swelling of Ankles and/or the Feet
  • Nausea
  • Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
  • Excess Fluid Buildup Around the Lungs Cause Shortness of Breath
  • Excess Fluid Buildup around the Heart Cause Chest Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Mental Slowness, or Less Sharp
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Overall Weakness or Unexplainable Fatigue

When kidneys don’t allow the passage of fluids properly, it will build up in the body. Not only do the increased levels of toxins begin to have their effect, but the actual fluid begins to clutter the lining around the heart and lungs.

What Causes Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure can occur due to a disease or prolonged conditions that will gradually affect the kidney’s health. Also, some conditions that occur which cause kidney function to become immediately compromised are called “acute kidney injury.” 

The following are known contributors to the various CKD stages, both gradual and acute:

  1. High Blood Pressure
  2. Inherited Conditions that Impair the Kidneys
  3. Inflammation of Tubules found in the Kidney and Also Surrounding Structures
  4. Urinary Tract Obstructions- kidney stones, enlarged prostate, specific types of cancer, etc.
  5. Autoimmune Diseases- Lupus is one example.
  6. Diabetes
  7. Vesicoureteral Reflux- This is a condition that doesn’t allow the flow of urine properly, causing it to back up into the kidneys.
  8. Pyelonephritis- A condition that causes frequent kidney infections.
  9. Other Varieties of Urinary Track Problems
  10. Abuse of Drugs or Illegal Drug Use
  11. Older Age
  12. Smoking
  13. Obesity
  14. Existing Heart Disease
  15. Race can Play a Part

The Five CKD stages

There is a scale by which the severity of kidney failure is judged, and that scale is referred to as stages 1 through 5. Stage 1 would be that which maintains the most amount of normal function, while five denotes the worst capability of regular function.

This is determined by a patient’s eFGR. An eFGR is conducted via a blood test, and when met with other factors and calculations, determine at what level a patient’s kidneys are functioning. 

What is CKD Stage 1

eFGR 90 or Better

Stage 1 CKD is among the most difficult to find, as the kidneys are functioning well and are still healthy. Often, those who are at this level of CKD will not have any noticeable symptoms, nor reason to be tested.

Most likely, patients that are being regularly monitored due to medications will be those who are found to harbor this almost unnoticeable stage of CKD. Warning signs at this stage may be protein in the urine or even slight physical damage to the kidneys. 

What is CKD Stage 2

eFGR 60-89

At CKD stage 2, you are suffering from mild kidney damage. Even still, your kidneys are functioning healthily, still working just fine. However, similar symptoms to stage 1 could be present, affecting the eFGR count.

Again, physical damage could be an indicator as well as finding proteins in a urine sample. If anything, at a more elevated rate than Stage 1.

What is CKD Stage 3

eFGR 30-59

At this point, things become a bit more serious, and some noticeable symptoms may begin to occur. That’s not the case for every patient, however. It is possible to not suffer any noticeable symptoms depending on the nature of the damage.

At stage 3, there is some damage already done to your kidneys, and are not functioning as well as they’re supposed to. If the damage being done to the kidneys is the type to prevent the flow of liquids into the kidneys, you may start showing the effects of having the additional fluid building up in the body. 

What is CKD Stage 4

eFGR 15-29

At this stage, your kidneys are moderate to severely damaged and have ceased to work properly at all. Since the last number in the stage scale is coming up next, it goes without saying that stage 4 is the last stage before total kidney failure.

Health complications are evident at this stage, along with other symptoms such as swelling, back pain, increased or decreased urinating, or any combination of the symptoms listed above.

What is CKD Stage 5

eFGR 15 or Less

At Stage 5 CKD, your kidneys are either on the brink of shutting down completely or have already failed. At this point, the waste has accumulated into your bloodstream, creating problems wherever it may go. 

Any combination of the above symptoms will occur, and immediate action will be required. Either a kidney transplant or a dialysis schedule. Dialysis is a means to clean the un-discarded toxins out of the blood and is a process that will need repeating until a transplant is scheduled. 

Final Thoughts

The moral of all of this could be summed up in two words- be proactive. Having kidneys checked out at the slightest signs of an issue could help to prevent further damage by receiving the right treatment, and also direct which preventative measures to take.

Information found on this page can be sourced and confirmed at Mayoclinic.org, kidneyfund.org, and niddk.nih.gov

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