The Different Stages of Kidney Disease
Your doctor is going to look at the results of blood tests and urinalyses to determine if you have kidney disease and what stage you are in. Creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) blood test results monitor your kidney function and are interpreted along with a test of a urine sample for protein. A calculation is performed to come up with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) to indicate how well your kidneys are functioning. Normal lab ranges for the GFR vary for age and are slightly different for those of African American descent. The amount of protein in your urine along with your estimated GFR help in establishing your stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Note that CKD cannot be reversed, but there are many options to slow its progression.
Numbers vary but it is generally believed that people with kidney disease can lose 30, 40, and even up to 90 percent of their kidney function before having symptoms that would cause them to make an appointment with their doctor to see what is wrong. In the early stages of kidney damage, no symptoms at all are likely to be experienced by the majority of people. Plus, symptoms such as appetite changes, nausea or vomiting in the morning, fatigue, itching and weight loss that come later may be attributed to other causes. This is why an annual blood test and urinalysis is important for healthy people with the tests being conducted every three months or more for those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other conditions that put kidneys at risk.
GFR Kidney Disease Staging
The result of your creatinine blood test will be calculated using your race, age, and gender to come up with a GFR result to indicate kidney function. If your urinalysis shows protein or an imaging test shows damage to your kidneys, then you are likely to be diagnosed with kidney disease even if your GFR is 90 or higher. This would be Stage 1 kidney disease.
As the GFR drops to the range of 60 to 89, this is Stage 2 kidney disease. A GFR of 44-59 is Stage 3a, and 30-43 is Stage 3b. Stage 4 kidney disease is diagnosed at a GFR of 15-29. Stage 5 kidney disease is anything below a GFR of 15. You may not even notice any symptoms at all until you reach Stage 3. At Stage 4, you may begin to lose your appetite, have decreased urine output, notice a metallic taste in your mouth, have problems concentrating or sleeping, and have more symptoms. Stage 5 is kidney failure.
When Is Dialysis or a Transplant Necessary
Dialysis, whether it be hemodialysis at home or at one of the treatment centers here at Satellite Healthcare, can begin anytime your nephrologist (kidney doctor) considers it necessary. This may begin at Stage 4 or 5. There is no cure for CKD that eventually leads to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) where your kidneys can no longer adequately filter your blood of fluids and toxins. A transplant is not a cure, but it does give you freedom to no longer require dialysis. You may be able to go along for years at one of the lower stages of CKD by keeping to your diet, exercise and medication plan as rigidly as possible.
Do not let a diagnosis of CKD get you down. Concentrate on the positives, which are things such as abundant treatment options and the availability of dialysis to take over lost kidney function when ESRD is reached. Today's modern dialysis provided by Satellite Healthcare offers patients the option of home dialysis or dialysis at one of our 80 locations. This frees you to keep your lifestyle to as near normal as possible even when your kidneys can no longer keep up.
Visit us at one of our dialysis centers today.