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What Are the Different Kidney Disease Stages?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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There are five different kidney disease stages, each categorized by the percentage of kidney function loss. This is primarily determined by the level of a waste material known as creatinine in the blood. Higher creatinine levels indicate greater loss of kidney function. Glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, is a mathematical formulation designed to determine the amount of kidney function present and is based on factors such as age, gender, and creatinine levels.

Stage one is the first of the five kidney disease stages. There are usually no symptoms associated with this stage, and many patients may not know yet that they have a kidney disease. GFR levels are at or above 90 percent at stage one, meaning that the patient has normal or nearly normal kidney function. Although there is no cure for kidney disease, treatment options are designed to preserve kidney functioning for as long as possible. Protein and sodium may be restricted at this stage, and underlying conditions such as high blood pressure should be monitored.

Kidney disease stages two and three indicate mild to moderate kidney function loss. The GFR rate for stage two is between 60 and 89, while stage three involves a GFR of 30 to 59. Symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, or kidney pain may begin to develop at these stages. Depending on blood test results, some nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorous, may be restricted at these kidney disease stages.

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Stage four kidney disease indicates a severe loss of kidney function, and GFR levels are between 15 and 29. Nausea, vomiting, and weight loss are common at this stage. A kidney specialist known as a nephrologist should be consulted by this stage so that further treatment options can be discussed. Dialysis or transplant options are discussed at this point, and a surgical access point known as a fistula may be performed in preparation for dialysis treatment.

Stage five is the last of the kidney disease stages and carries a GFR level of less than 15. This stage is referred to as end stage renal disease, or ESRD. Symptoms often include muscle pain, numbness or tingling, and such severe fatigue that the patient can barely function. Dialysis or kidney transplantation is needed at this point in order to save the life of the patient. Any questions or concerns about the various kidney disease stages or the most appropriate individualized treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

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