Stages of kidney disease

"Your kidneys are essential for your health. They filter out waste products and extra fluids. They make hormones and help produce red blood cells.

Over time, some people’s kidneys don’t work well. This serious condition affects more and more people. The earlier it’s detected, the sooner you can start treatment to slow down or even stop kidney damage.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs in 5 stages. Many people in the early stages don’t know they have it. They don’t see signs until after the kidneys are damaged.

Early treatment is key. Knowing the signs means you can get help sooner. If you think you have symptoms, let your doctor know.

Stage 1

In the first stage, you may not have symptoms. You may not even know you have kidney disease. Many people learn they have kidney disease when they see their doctor for something else. Protein in the urine is often an early sign.

At this point, lifestyle changes can help slow down kidney disease. Treating diseases that make it worse, like diabetes or high blood pressure, is also important.

Stage 2

In stage 2, the kidneys are less able to filter blood. Some people still don’t have symptoms, but others notice frequent urination or puffiness around the eyes. Some have trouble sleeping, while others have swelling in their legs and feet.

Protein, and possibly blood, may show up in the urine. Your doctor may collect a urine sample to learn more.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is divided into two phases, stage 3a and stage 3b. In stage 3, you might notice changes in urination. In some cases, your urine might appear foamy. This is a sign of protein in the urine.

You may also have trouble sleeping, swelling in your legs and feet, and pain in your lower back. Some people with more advanced kidney disease have itchy, dry skin. This is from a buildup of waste in the blood.

Stage 4

In stage 4, waste products quickly build up in the blood. This causes many people to feel extremely sick. You can’t manage such symptoms as shortness of breath, excessive itching, and trouble concentrating without treatment.

It’s common to be less hungry in stage 4. You may be nauseous or throw up. Other symptoms include pain, muscle cramps, fatigue, swelling in the arms or legs, and changes in how often you urinate. Many of these symptoms can be helped with dialysis.

Stage 5

People in stage 5 need frequent medical treatment to feel well. They require dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to survive.

The same symptoms from earlier stages of kidney disease are usually present. Fatigue, pain, muscle cramps, and swelling in the limbs are common. You may also have headaches, nausea and vomiting, and changes in appetite.

For some, stage 5 causes breathing problems due to fluid buildup in the lungs. Urine flow may slow down or even stop. There may also be changes in skin color. "