Chronic kidney disease is a health issue that affects more than three million people each year in the United States alone. Despite the prevalence of this disease, not many people know much about it. This lack of understanding can make actually living with renal disease even more difficult than it needs to be.
Understanding is the first step to living the healthiest life possible with a chronic kidney disease. If you do not properly understand what it is you are dealing with and how to move forward, you are a lot more likely to make poor health decisions that could put your very life in jeopardy. Having a full understanding of what chronic kidney disease is and how to live with it is your ticket to the longest, healthiest, and most comfortable life possible.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease, also called renal disease, is a chronic condition marked by the loss of kidney function. Since the kidneys perform many important tasks in your body, kidney disease can be one of the most uncomfortable and potentially detrimental health conditions. There are stages of chronic kidney disease to track the amount of function lost.
There are five stages of renal disease. As each stage progresses, so does the loss of kidney function. The loss of kidney function is measured using a value referred to as the glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. Using some simple blood tests as well as other factors such as race, sex, and age, your doctor will determine your GFR. The lower your GFR value is, the less your kidneys are functioning. This determines what stage of renal disease you are in.
At the very beginning, there are not many symptoms to accompany stage one renal disease. Instead, most stage one kidney disease cases are diagnosed via routine testing such as blood work that you get during your regular checkups. This is one reason why regular screening is so important and should not be skipped.
Stage two chronic kidney disease also typically has little to no symptoms. It is usually diagnosed when a patient comes in to be treated or tested for another chronic health issue, such as diabetes. This is because many chronic health conditions are linked and many people ultimately end up with more than one. Diet and lifestyle changes will be highly recommended to help slow or stop the progression of renal disease.
By this point in the progression of renal disease, symptoms start to show up. They usually start pretty mildly, with back soreness and some urinary issues.
Stage four chronic kidney disease is typically considered severe. The symptoms at this point are likely to become uncomfortable and will include back pain, fatigue, urinary problems, severe fluid retention, and more. Dietary restrictions will be strict and will likely include fluid restrictions.
Stage Five/ End Stage Renal Disease
Stage five or end stage renal disease means that the patient will require a kidney transplant or dialysis to replace kidney function. It is always recommended that strict dietary restrictions and doctors’ orders be followed as soon as possible after the diagnosis of an earlier stage of renal disease so that you can potentially stop or slow the progression of kidney disease before it gets to this point.
The stages of renal disease are there to help mark the progression of chronic kidney disease, but they can be more to you. The stages can represent what you need to do to stop the progression of your illness before it becomes much more uncomfortable. This understanding can help you live with chronic kidney disease. For more information on the stages of chronic kidney disease, click here.