Knowing the stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) can help to guide treatment decisions and monitor the progression of the disease.
The kidney is a complex organ that consists of many different types of specialized cells, highly organized in a functioning unit called the nephron. Due to diseases (such as diabetes, hypertension, urinary tract infections, etc) or other risk factors (e.g. family history, older age), the nephron may fail to perform its function.
Once the damage of the kidneys starts, the process is ongoing and kidney function tends to decline, even if the initial insult has been eliminated. Although the damage cannot be repaired, there are steps you can take to slow down the progression of CKD and keep your kidneys healthier for a longer time - a balanced diet, special medication, change of lifestyle, etc.
The stages of CKD are determined by how well the kidneys perform their function, i.e. filter out waste and extra fluid from the blood. The more advanced the kidney disease is, the harder it is for kidneys to get rid of these metabolic end-products which may lead to them [lead them to] stop working altogether.
This is estimated by the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a number that is determined with a simple blood test and the amount of creatinine (a waste product) in your blood. A lower GFR signifies that a smaller amount of blood passes through the kidney filters each minute.
With this in mind, there are 5 kidney disease stages that reflect gradual adaptation in nephron loss:
The existence of the disease is determined based on the presence of kidney damage and the level of kidney function or glomerular filtration rate (GFR). If you want to learn how the GFR is estimated visit our GFR calculator page.