Stages of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease or kidney failure is among the most serious kidney problems. You may be suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) in which your kidneys won't fail all at once. Instead, the disease progresses slowly over the course of several years. Therefore, it is possible to improve your life expectancy if CKD is diagnosed early. You can take certain medications and make some lifestyle changes to slow its progress. For early diagnosis, it is important that you have some knowledge about stages of kidney disease and different symptoms you experience in each stage. Keep reading to learn more.

5 Stages of Kidney Disease

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has created a guideline to make it easier for doctors to identify different stages of kidney disease. The foundation has divided kidney disease into five stages based on the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a process used by the kidneys to filter your blood and remove excess fluids and wastes. Checking the GFR will help determine how efficiently the kidneys are filtering the blood. It is possible to calculate glomerular filtration rate using a formula that includes your gender, age, race and serum creatinine levels.


GFR (mL/min)




  • ŸHigher than normal levels of urea in the blood
  • ŸProtein or blood in the urine
  • ŸSigns of kidney damage in a CT scan, MRI, contrast X-ray or ultrasound
  • ŸA family history of polycystic kidney disease




Same with stage 1




Except the symptoms that have shown in stage 1 and 2, you may also experience:

  • ŸSevere fatigue
  • ŸEdema, fluid retention, and shortness of breath
  • ŸFoamy, brow or tea-colored urine
  • ŸBlood in the urine
  • ŸSevere kidney pain
  • ŸRestless legs or muscle cramps leading to sleep problems




In stage 4, you will experience the symptoms associated with stage 1, 2, and 3 with some additional signs of kidney damage, which include urination changes, vomiting, nausea, change of taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, bad breath, difficulty in concentrating and nerve problems causing tingling/numbness in the fingers or toes.


(end stage)


The most common symptoms in the end stage of kidney disease include nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, itching, headaches, and under production of urine. You may also notice swelling around the ankles and eyes with muscle cramps, changes in skin color, and increased skin pigmentation.

Slowing Down the Progression of Kidney Disease

Early diagnosis is very important in making your condition more manageable. You can slow down the progression of your kidney disease if you have complete knowledge of stages of kidney disease. Here are some of the steps that will help improve your life expectancy with kidney disease if diagnosing it early.

1.  Control the Blood Pressure

You can slow the rate of your kidney disease by maintaining good blood pressure. This is especially beneficial for people with diabetes and protein in their urine. Work with your physician to learn how you can keep your blood pressure below 130/85 to slow the rate of kidney disease. People with diabetes should strive to keep their blood pressure below 125/75. Exercising, losing weight, eating less, meditation and lowering your salt intake will also help keep your blood pressure in check. Your doctor may prescribe ACE inhibitors to help keep your blood pressure within the desired level. Meantime, be sure to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor to control the rate of damage to your kidneys.

2.  Control the Blood Glucose

Just like keeping your blood pressure in a certain range, you need to keep your blood glucose in check as well. Strict control of your blood glucose level will go a long way in slowing the progression of kidney disease. Make sure to keep your hemoglobin A1C below 6.5%, and practice strict glycemic control to reach this level. You may sometimes need an insulin pump or insulin injections to keep things under control. Talk to your doctor to learn how to control your blood glucose levels.

3.  Adjust Diet and Lifestyle

With proper knowledge about different stages of kidney disease, you can learn what types of changes you need to make to your diet and lifestyle to slow the progression of your disease. Eat food loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory vitamins. Use fish oil but limit your phosphorus and protein intake if your kidney disease is at an advanced stage.

4.  Repair the Damage

Knowledge about different stages of kidney disease will help understand the extent of damage done to your kidneys. In some cases, you may consider treating your kidney disease. You may want to go for surgery if an obstruction blocks your urine flow. You can take antibiotics to help clear an infection. But you need to know the side effects of prescription and non-prescription medicines can be serious for the kidneys. Talk to your doctor and they may suggest different drugs that may be less harmful to your kidneys. Controlling your immune system response in diseases such as lupus, glomerulonephritis and igA neuropathy will help limit the damage done to the kidneys.

Treating Kidney Disease Based on Stages

With information about different stages of kidney disease, you can definitely take steps to slow the progression rate of your kidney disease. However, you can also try certain ways to treat your kidney disease based on different stages.

Stage 1

Your GFR will be 90 or above with in this stage with fewer symptoms. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all. Still, it is possible to identify kidney damage before the GFR begins to drop. The treatment used in this stage,like eating a healthy diet, taking exercise regularly, stopping smoking, will slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Stage 2

Your GFR will be between 60 and 89 with evident symptoms and some kidney damage. The kidney function will start to decline in this stage. Your doctor will continue with the same treatment of stage 1, like controlling the blood pressure, taking some medications, to reduce to risk of other health issues.

Stage 3

You will notice moderate decrease in GFR, which may still be between 30 and 59. Kidney damage is usually quite noticeable in this stage with other issues, such as bone problems and anemia. Your doctor will suggest medication option and some lifestyle changes to avoid and treat these complications.

Stage 4

Your GFR will come down considerably and be anywhere between 15 and 29. Your doctor may discuss other treatment options in this stage, such as hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysisand a kidney transplant. These treatment options will require special preparation, like hemodialysis will require a procedure used to enlarge a vein in your arm for repeated needle insertions.

Stage 5

Your GFR will be less 15, which will result in kidney failure. In this stage, you will need to a kidney transplant to maintain life. 

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