Chronic Kidney Disease: Understanding The 5 Stages

Doctor Loy

Updated on:

kidney pain

    Chronic Kidney Disease(CKD) is one of the most common non-communicable diseases globally. In 2017, there were nearly 700 million new cases of all types of CKD recorded globally. Those numbers will continue to rise with the increased number of diabetes and high blood pressure cases every year.

    Chronic kidney disease is a condition that many people in the world experience. There are many reasons why people develop this illness, and people must become more aware of the risks associated with the disease. It is a medical condition of decreasing kidney function that occurs over time.  

    It's best to learn about this progressive disease and what happens to the kidneys. Often, you won't recognize the symptoms of kidney disease develop slowly and may not even until years later. 

    The Stages 

    Chronic kidney disease is usually described in stages, like 1 through 5. 

    They define the stages of chronic kidney disease by the levels of damage done. The percentage of damage is determined based on the kidney glomerular filtration rate, which measures the efficiency of kidney filtration of the blood. You can calculate this with routine blood work. 

    Each stage has some characteristic symptoms with some overlap of individual stages. For example, the goal for any patient with chronic kidney disease would be to do everything in their power to keep from progressing to a higher stage. 

    Stage 1 

    In stage 1, the kidneys are doing just fine, and they are functioning well even though they have experienced a small amount of damage. 

    Most people who have this condition will not realize they have any trouble with their kidneys.  

    They usually have no symptoms and have often not sought medical care.

    Stage 2 

    In stage 2, the damage to the kidneys is slightly more. 

    People who have advanced to this point may be experiencing a few symptoms such as itching, feeling tired, or decreased appetite.  

    The kidneys are functioning between 60 and 89 percent at this stage. Many people who have high blood pressure or diabetes can go on to develop this stage of the illness.  

    A kidney specialist must become involved in the person's medical care, which will be the best way to prevent worsening your kidney function. Preventative measures are so necessary at the early stages of kidney disease.

    Stage 3 

    In stage 3, the damage to the kidneys is more extensive, and the kidneys function in the range of 30 to 59%. This stage is also often broken down into A and B subcategories.  

    Patients often have quite a bit of swelling of the extremities, generalized weakness, and increased urination. These patients usually require treatment with medications such as diuretics and low sodium diets to facilitate the removal of excess fluid.

    Stage 4 

    Stage 4 damage to the kidneys is moderate to severe, and the function of the kidneys is as low as 15 to 29%. People at this level are very close to developing Stage 5 of the disease, end-stage renal failure. So it's of the utmost importance that the person does everything they can to prevent this from progressing to that point. Luckily, Medicare covers kidney services and supplies if you have End-Stage Renal Disease (Esrd).

    Permanent kidney failure requires a regular course of dialysis or a kidney transplant.

    People usually experience muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, swelling, persistent itching, difficulty sleeping, and reduced clarity. 

    Patients should be in regular communication with their kidney specialist when at this stage to achieve the best outcome.

    Stage 5 

    If someone progresses to Stage 5, their kidney function is less than 15%, and the kidneys are failing. So many people end up urinating very little or not urinating at all.  

    At this level, patients will need to go on dialysis.

    Complications In Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease

    If patients with Stage 5 CKD are untreated, they can develop excessive swelling in the entire body. They may even start to have fluid build-up in their lungs. They will experience shortness of breath and sometimes cough up fluid. Dialysis will be a life-saving treatment for patients who have this condition.  

    In addition, elevated potassium levels are a common occurrence in people with Stage 5 kidney disease. However, untreated high potassium levels are not sustainable in life, and the person will require emergent dialysis to treat this condition.  

    Due to the increased risk of complications with Stage 5 illness, patients will have increased hospitalizations each year.

    Walk-In Lab is offering discounted Kidney (Blood / Urine) Test Panels as low as $70 with NO DRAW FEE!


    Chronic kidney disease has several stages of worsening kidney function, and you must know more about how well your kidneys are functioning. For example, if you know that you have chronic kidney disease, you can focus on maintaining a steady level of kidney function.  

    Doing everything you can to avoid the late stages of CKD will serve you well.


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