Stages and Treatment for Kidney Disease

Kidneys are vital, bean-shaped organs that function to remove waste from our bodies, filter the blood, and balance electrolytes in our bodies. Once this waste is removed from the blood, it is filtered out of the body as urine. 

A person who has developed kidney disease experiences a condition where their kidneys are not properly filtering blood. This condition affects millions of people worldwide. Despite not having a treatment, kidney disease can be managed if caught early and controlled by making lifestyle changes.

Signs of Kidney Disease 

Often, signs of kidney disease do not appear until the disease has developed significantly. People who have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease are more at risk for developing kidney disease. People who suffer from these medical conditions or those who have a family history of kidney disease should have their kidneys tested regularly by a doctor.

Common symptoms of kidney disease include: 

  • Changes in urination patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Swelling in the hands, legs, or feet
  • Itching
  • Dry skin
  • Localized pain around/near kidneys
  • Puffy eyes
  • High blood pressure

Stages of Kidney Disease

To determine the stage of kidney disease, doctors calculate estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). A patient’s eGFR levels can help health care providers determine the presence of kidney disease and how far the disease has progressed. 

  • Stage 1 – At this stage, eGFR levels are at 90 or greater. Kidneys will function normally, and a patient will experience no symptoms of kidney disease. Protein in urine may be detectable with a urine test. 
  • Stage 2 – A patient’s eGFR levels will decrease to be between 60-89. Kidneys will continue to function normally, and in most cases no change in health will be detected. At this stage, kidney damage will be detectable in an ultrasound, and protein in the urine may be present. Doctors will work with patients to manage their blood pressure, blood sugar, and to figure out an appropriate medication plan. 
  • Stage 3 – When eGFR levels fall between 30-59, a patient has entered stage 3 kidney disease. At this stage, a decrease in kidney functionality will be prevalent, which could harm other areas in your body. Patients may experience a rise in blood pressure, anemia, and bone problems, as well as a range of other milder symptoms such as changes in urination and pain around the kidneys. The damage is irreversible, but doctors can help patients manage their symptoms with medication to prevent further damage.
  • Stage 4 – Stage 4 kidney disease is close to kidney failure. A patient’s eGFR levels will be between 15-29. Waste buildup can cause high blood pressure, anemia, heart disease, bone disease, and more. Patients will often experience appetite changes or overall weakness. Doctors will work with patients to regulate medication and talk about a potential kidney transplant or dialysis if kidneys are close to failure. 
  • Stage 5 – Known as kidney failure. A patient’s eGFR level will be below 15. Waste will not be able to be filtered from the body, causing severe problems in health. To treat kidney failure, patients can choose between dialysis or a kidney transplant. 

Combative Treatments for Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a serious condition. Thankfully, despite the disease being incurable, there are several things’ patients can do to manage their condition or prevent it altogether. Changing your diet, getting enough exercise, and moderating medications are three ways kidney disease can be treated or prevented. Medical research has also found promising results from Klotho, a naturally occurring protein found in the kidneys. Groundbreaking research shows it can be used to help patients enduring kidney disease increase their quality of life.