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Kidney Facts

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)? 

Kidneys function to remove extra water and wastes, control blood pressure, keep body chemicals in balance, keep bones strong, and help make red blood cells. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to clean toxins and waste products from the blood and perform their normal function. This can occur over a long or short period of time.

What are the symptoms of (CKD)?

It is important to recognize the symptoms of kidney disease for early detection and treatment. Symptoms can include: 

  • Generalized fatigue and weakness – Caused by a build-up of wastes or a shortage of red blood cells (anemia) when the kidneys begin to fail.
  • Swelling of feet, hands or face – A result of the kidneys’ inability to remove fluid from the body.
  • Changes in urination quantity and frequency – You may urinate more or less than usual. You may feel pressure when urinating or notice changes in the color of your urine. Urine may be foamy or bubbly.
  • Shortness of breath – Caused by fluid building up in the lungs.
  • Back or flank pain – Your kidneys are located on each side of your spine.
  • Itchiness – Caused by the waste build up in the body.
  • Nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss

Who is at risk for CKD?

If you think you may be at risk for CKD, a kidney screening with your health care provider would be advisable. Some risk factors include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardio vascular disease
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Minority groups(African American, Asian American, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans)
  • Age of 55 or older

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Stages

 The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has divided kidney disease into five stages. This helps doctors provide the best care, as each stage calls for different tests and treatments. The Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is the number used to figure out a person’s stage of kidney disease. It estimates how much blood passes through the tiny filters in the kidneys that filter waste from the blood.  A formula using the person’s age, race, gender and their serum creatinine (blood measurement) is used to calculate a GFR. A GFR greater than 90 mL/min is considered normal unless there is other evidence of kidney disease. As kidney disease progresses a patient’s GFR will decrease. Now let’s take a look at these five stages:

  • Stage 1 – Although the kidneys are damaged, kidney function is normal, with normal or high GFR. There are usually no symptoms to indicate the kidneys are damaged. Patients usually find out they’re in stage 1 because they were tested for another condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure (the two leading causes of kidney disease). GFR will be greater than 90 mL/min in this stage.
  • Stage 2 – Patients have kidney damage with a mild decrease in their (GFR). Similar to stage 1, there are usually no symptoms to indicate the kidneys are damaged, with a diagnosis resulting in the same manner as in stage 1. GFR will be in the range of 60-89 mL/min.
  • Stage 3A & 3B – A patient with stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD) has moderate kidney damage. This stage is broken up into two, based on the decrease in the (GFR). As kidney function declines waste products will build up in the blood causing a condition known as “uremia.” In stage 3 a person is more likely to develop complications of kidney disease such as high blood pressure or anemia (a shortage of red blood cells) and/or early bone disease. Stage 3A GFR will range between 45-59 mL/min. Stage 3B GFR will range between 30-44 mL/min.
  • Stage 4 – Patients with stage 4 CKD have advanced kidney damage with a severe decrease in their GFR. It is likely someone with stage 4 CKD will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in the near future. As kidney function declines, stage 4 CKD patients have the same health risks as with stage 3 CKD, along with heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. GFR ranges are 15-29 mL/min.
  • Stage 5 – Stage 5 CKD patients have end stage renal disease (ESRD) with a minimal GFR At this advanced stage of kidney disease, the kidneys have lost nearly all of their ability to do their job effectively, and eventually dialysis or a kidney transplant will be necessary to live. End stage CKD GFR is less than 15 mL/min.

It’s important to understand that with chronic kidney disease, the kidneys don’t usually fail all at once. Instead, kidney disease often progresses slowly, sometimes over a period of years. This is good news because if CKD is caught early, our CKS medical team is equipped to provide you with the proper health care that may help slow its progress and keep you feeling your best for as long as possible.