Kidney disease is broken down into 5 different stages based on your kidney function and the progression through each stage may take years to unfold.
In the early stages you probably did not feel differently, and may only have been diagnosed with CKD because lab tests revealed concerning results. In the later stages, called Stages 4 and 5, you will likely experience some symptoms. The build up of waste, minerals, and other chemicals in your blood, is called uremia and may happen slowly. Your lab tests will also show continuing signs of declining kidney function. At this stage, it is important to regularly see a doctor who specializes in kidney disease, called a nephrologist. Your doctor will begin talking with you about treatment options, including transplant or dialysis once you are in the later stages of CKD.
By Stage 5, your kidneys are no longer able to perform their normal functions. Left untreated, Stage 5 is a fatal condition; your kidneys are no longer able to remove fluids or extra waste products, causing toxins and fluids to build up. In addition, your body is less effective at regulating blood pressure, making red blood cells, and keeping your bones healthy. If you are diagnosed with Stage 5 CKD, you will need to see a nephrologist to immediately begin dialysis treatment. However, with proper treatment, you will be able to live a longer and healthier life.
Later, you will learn more about how the changing stages of CKD affect your kidney function and how this may make you feel, and how the doctor will use the stages to design a treatment plan.
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