What Are the 5 Stages of Kidney Failure?

Kidneys are the most vital part of the body, aren’t they? When your kidneys don’t do their regular old job and are tired of doing it, then that results in kidney failure. But what are the 5 stages of kidney failure? Let us find out!

The human body has a pair of kidneys, which measure about our fist size and are bean-shaped. Well, most of the time your kidneys work perfectly fine, doing their regular old job, filtering.

Kidneys filter waste and they are responsible for removing extra fluid from the body and maintaining a healthy water-salt balance in your blood.

1. What Is Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure simply implies that your kidneys are damaged and unable to perform their usual functions.

There are two types of kidney diseases categorized as acute and chronic kidney disease1.

What about a cure?? Well, there is no cure for kidney failure but hold on, there are various treatments that can help people live longer.

Mayo Clinic Explains Kidney Disease

1.1. What Causes Kidney Failure?

When a kidney fails, damage is done to the kidneys. The harm to the kidneys worsens throughout months or even years, and this type of kidney failure is known as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

The major diseases or conditions that cause a CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) are:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure

1.2. What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease occurs once 85-90 percent of your kidneys are damaged and thus no longer function properly.

A multitude of disorders can induce chronic kidney disease, which affects the kidney’s functioning progressively over very few to several years.

2. The 5 Stages of Kidney Failure Explained 

The very first factor to grasp is just how the phases of kidney disease are assessed.

The Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) is the primary indicator of overall health. The frequency at which fluids are absorbed via the kidneys is measured as GFR2.

A normal healthy kidney has a greater filtration rate. A decreased rate suggests that kidney function is impaired or unsatisfactory, whether owing to illness or injury.

The quantity of creatinine throughout the circulation is used to assess the filtration rate of your kidneys.

Creatinine is produced by the body as it metabolizes creatine phosphate, a crystalline molecule produced by your body during normal muscular action.

The kidneys remove creatinine from circulation. A serum test will determine the amount of creatinine in your blood. The greater your creatinine level, the less creatinine your kidneys filter out.

This testing is critical for determining your level of kidney function.

Let’s have a look at the various stages of kidney disease:

2.1. Stage 1

When GFR is 90 or higher during the phase of chronic kidney disease, it suggests that your kidneys have been operating at 90% or greater capacity.

Although your filtration rate is good, there could be other signs that something is wrong with the kidneys, such as the production of proteins in your pee.

2.2. Stage 2

GFR is around 60 to 89 during phase two of chronic kidney disease. Your filtration rate is somewhat below average, and there could be additional signs of poor kidney function.

In regards to noticeable differences, you are all still essentially asymptomatic3.

Urine and blood tests, ultrasounds, and CT scans are just a few of the procedures your doctor can perform to evaluate the extent of your organ damage and the cause of your decreased kidney function.

At about this point, it’s critical to focus on your lifestyle choices, specifically your nutrition and exercise. They are critical in determining how quickly the illness advances.

Specialists recommendations:

  • Assess your blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • Consume a nutritious diet that is minimal in sodium, sugars, and artificial carbohydrates.
  • Work out for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
  • Give up smoking and nicotine usage in all forms.

2.3. Stage 3

The GFR is around 30 and 59 in phase three CKD. A blood screening test also known as a blood test is the only way to diagnose kidney damage at this phase.

Phase 3 is usually separated into 2 phases:

  • Stage 3a (early) when the eGFR is around 45 and 59.
  • Phase 3b (late) when the eGFR is around 30 and 44.

Patients might not be symptomatic during Phase 3.

Once indications do emerge, these are more likely to show up at Stage 3b and might include the following:

  • Back-ache
  • Hand and/or feet that are inflamed
  • Urination that is abnormally recurrent or infrequent

Other negative health conditions may occur when kidney function declines and wastes accumulate in your body, such as:

  • Their blood pressure is high.
  • Anemia
  • Bone disease

A nephrologist (kidney expert) should be consulted at this stage to formulate and execute a care plan.

Treatments for CKD emphasize disease prevention, especially controlling problems that might complicate or arise from the illness.

This can include, in addition to the conditions indicated above:

  • Diabetes,
  • Swelling
  • High cholesterol levels

A CKD treatment plan often includes a mix of dietary modifications, exercise frequency, intensity adjustments, and both prescription drugs and dietary supplements.

2.4. Stage 4

The GFR is anywhere between 15 and 29 in the fourth phase of kidney impairment. You should be seeing the nephrologist on a regular basis and implementing your care plan by now.

At this point, you and your doctor should start talking about your choices in the case of renal failure. At this stage, the only alternatives are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dialysis is categorized into two categories: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis (More about peritoneal dialysis)

  • Hemodialysis is often performed in a medical setting and includes the use of a device. The blood flows into the device, where it is cleansed of pollutants before being returned to your body.
  • Peritoneal dialysis is often performed at home and includes the injection of a cleaning substance into the lining of your abdomen through a catheter. Minor surgery 4is required for catheter insertion in preparation for peritoneal dialysis.

A kidney transplant offers both advantages and disadvantages. A healthy, functioning kidney removes waste from the blood more effectively than dialysis. Patients may have to wait for years until an eligible donor becomes available.

Furthermore, not every patient suffering from renal disease is a suitable candidate for a transplant.

There are several factors that are considered before you receive a kidney transplant. Factors such as age, cognitive status, and any other health conditions might make you ineligible for a transplant.

It is critical to remember that, even if you can facilitate a transplant, it isn’t always the answer. You’ll need to take drugs on a regular basis to keep your immune system from rejecting the new kidney.

2.5. Stage 5

In phase 5, your GFR would be less than 15, and your kidney is either on the verge of or already in kidney failure. Such a phase of the illness is also known as End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD5).

Waste products that have accumulated in your blood reach dangerous amounts if your kidney really isn’t working properly.

Common kidney failure indications also include those linked with Phase Three (described above), as well as:

  • Appetite reduction
  • Cramps in the muscles
  • Itching
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nausea
  • Puking

3. How is Chronic Kidney Disease Diagnosed?

Your doctor will consider your whole medical record as well as your family medical history, including if anybody in your kin does or has diabetes es, drug usage.

Your doctor will do a comprehensive physical assessment to identify whether you have chronic kidney disease symptoms.

Some tests that would help your doctor confirm or eliminate CKD are:

  • Kidney Function Test: Your creatinine levels can help your doctor in checking whether your kidneys are functioning normally.
  • Blood Test: Low hemoglobin levels are a common sign of CKD.
  • Urine Test: This will be done specifically to look for proteins or recurrent proteins in the pee, which would be a symptom of kidney injury. Red blood cells and white blood cells are two more things the doctor will look for.

4. Conclusion – Stay Ahead of CKD

What are the 5 stages of kidney failure?
Photo by Kaylee Garrett on Unsplash.

How do you stay ahead of chronic kidney disease? Well, it’s an easy peasy job. These are things that you should do to stay ahead and prevent Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Doing regular exercise is always recommended but it is good for more than just your waistline. Daily exercise can lower the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Another way to prevent CKD is controlling your blood sugar because if the damage you can prevent the damage to the kidneys you can prevent CKD. If the damage is caught early, your doctor can help you reduce the additional damage it would have caused if left unnoticed.

Last but not least, a healthy diet low in sodium, and a reduced intake of processed meats, and other kidney-damaging foods can help you in preventing damage to your kidneys.

Check out other articles on, 5 Ways to Prevent Yeast Infection While Taking Antibiotics.

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

5.1. Can kidney failure be cured?

No, unfortunately, kidney failure can not be cured However, you can extend your life significantly with dialysis or a kidney transplant.

5.2. How long is life after kidney failure?

A dialysis patient should expect to live for 5 to 10 years, while many go on to live for 20 to 30. After receiving a kidney from a living donor, most people don’t require a new kidney for 15 to 20 years.

  1. Kalantar-Zadeh, Kamyar, et al. “Chronic kidney disease.” The lancet 398.10302 (2021): 786-802. ↩︎
  2. Delgado, Cynthia, et al. “A unifying approach for GFR estimation: recommendations of the NKF-ASN task force on reassessing the inclusion of race in diagnosing kidney disease.” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 32.12 (2021): 2994-3015. ↩︎
  3. He, Jingjing, et al. “Proportion of asymptomatic coronavirus disease 2019: A systematic review and meta‐analysis.” Journal of medical virology 93.2 (2021): 820-830. ↩︎
  4. Tosetto, Alberto, et al. “Turoctocog alfa pegol provides effective management for major and minor surgical procedures in patients across all age groups with severe haemophilia A: full data set from the pathfinder 3 and 5 phase III trials.” Haemophilia 26.3 (2020): 450-458. ↩︎
  5. Cheng, Hui-Teng, et al. “Worldwide epidemiology of diabetes-related end-stage renal disease, 2000–2015.” Diabetes Care 44.1 (2021): 89-97. ↩︎

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Vishal Gupta

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