Gradual and usually a permanent loss of kidney function over time leads to a chronic kidney disease. It is a fairly common condition with one in every ten persons being afflicted with kidney disease of some stage. Kidney problems also aggravate with increasing age. Most cases of CKD are mild to moderate. There are 5 stages of chronic kidney disease, the last one being total kidney failure. Water, wastes and toxic substances accumulate to dangerous levels and most patients require dialysis or transplantation to stay alive.
5 stages of chronic kidney disease:
The stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are based on Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR). Stage 1 has normal kidney function and stage 5 is that of total failure.
- Slight kidney damage with normal or increased filtration – Here, the Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is more than 90mL/min/1.72m2. The kidney functions normally but the urine findings or structural abnormalities point towards kidney disease. It indicates a previous history of some kidney damage or some kind of kidney inflammation.
- Mild decrease in kidney function – In this stage, the GFR is 60-89mL/min/1.72m2
- Moderate decrease in kidney function – GFR falls to 30-59mL/min/1.72m2 in this stage. This stage can occur without a known kidney damage or disease. An elderly person with aging kidneys can have reduced function without any known kidney disease. People with stage 3 CKD should be immunised against influenza each year and one time against pneumococcus. Stages 1-3 may not show any recognisable symptoms and you may not feel unwell.
- Severe decrease in GFR – Here, the GFR is significantly low- 15-29mL/min/1.72m2. The kidney function is severely reduced. Several symptoms such as tiredness, weight loss, muscle cramps etc. can indicate this stage. People with this stage should be immunised against Hepatitis B.
- Kidney Failure – This is the last stage of chronic kidney failure. The GFR is less than 15mL/min/1.72m2. This is also called Established Renal Failure. There is poor life expectancy if this is left untreated. Permanent renal replacement therapy is recommended.
Chronic kidney disease happens over a period of time, maybe even years. People at any stage of chronic kidney disease have an increased risk of heart disease or stroke, so it is of utmost importance to detect and treat even mild CKD. It is equally vital to keep your blood pressure under control with the help of medications. Regular review of your medication is also important as certain medicines can affect the kidneys adversely.