The glomerular filtration rate measures kidney functions and evaluates its overall condition basing on how well it filters waste products and toxins from the body. When GFR goes down, it means that the kidney filters aren’t working properly and it may indicate an existing medical condition. Also, the body cannot produce essential bodily hormones that keep your bones and blood healthy. If the kidney disease is detected early then it will allow individual access for early treatment. Thus, it prevents kidney condition from worsening.
Chronic Kidney Disease and Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) Stages
Kidney disease progresses through 5 stages and its treatment may depend on these stages. Listed below are the 5 stages of chronic kidney disease and glomerular filtration rate:
At this stage, both kidneys are still functioning normally with a 90 to 100% capability and glomerular filtration rate of 90ml/min or above. In most cases, a person with stage 1 chronic kidney disease doesn’t have any evident symptoms. This is because the kidneys can still work effectively under 100% of its full capacity. They may only find out that they have kidney disease through blood test during routine physical examinations. Also, it may be detected when the person is being examined because of other disorders such as high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes.
The existence of a stage 1 kidney disease may also be determined through other possible instances that include:
- Signs of blood and/or protein compounds in the urine.
- Signs of kidney damage through imaging results from CT scan, MRI, contrast X-ray or ultrasound.
- The presence of urea nitrogen or creatinine in the blood which is higher than normal.
- Also, if the person has a family background of polycystic kidney disease.
At this stage, the kidneys experience mild loss of its functions which is now under 60 to 89ml/min glomerular filtration rate. Under such condition, the kidneys are still considered healthy and can work properly with no symptoms to indicate kidney disease. The person may only know that he has kidney disease through blood test during his regular checkups. It may also be detected during diagnosis of other existing disorder such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
This phase is divided into categories which are stage 3a and 3b. Stage 3a is described as mild to moderate kidney damage with a glomerular filtration rate of 45 to 59ml/min. On the other hand, stage 3b is from moderate to severe with a glomerular filtration rate of 30 to 44ml/min. At this point, the kidneys become less effective and a significant amount of waste products would accumulate in the blood—a condition called uremia. A person with a stage 3 chronic kidney disease is at risks to develop other medical conditions linked to kidney diseases such as anemia, bone disorders, or high blood pressure (hypertension).
At this stage, several symptoms will start to occur that includes the following:
- Back pain concentrated in the back midsection which the kidneys are located.
- Restless legs syndrome
- Frequent feelings of fatigue
- Foam formations in the urine
- Less frequent urination
- Change in urine color, from tea-colored, brown, or reddish in color
- Swelling in the arms, legs, arms, hands and, certain parts of the face.
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid retention
The individual must consult a nephrologist if any of these symptoms start to occur to prevent it from progressing. A nephrologist is a doctor with specialized training on kidney disease treatment. The nephrologists will first perform physical checkups then order laboratory tests. The goal of the treatment focuses on maintaining the proper functioning of the kidneys and prevents the disease from progressing.
At this point, kidneys condition becomes severe and function is reduced to a glomerular filtration rate of 15 to 29ml/min. A person with stage 4 chronic kidney disease is now likely to need dialysis to keep his kidneys working and prevent uremia from accumulating in the blood. It’s also possible to perform a kidney transplant in the future if the condition worsens.
In addition to stage 3 symptoms, a stage 4 CKD patient may also experience the following symptoms:
- Bad breath that’s caused by the urea accumulation in the blood
- Unusual metallic taste in the mouth
- Appetite loss
- Having difficulties concentrating on daily tasks and activities
- Numbness or tingling sensation concentrated in the fingers or toes
When any of these symptoms start to show, it’s important to consult your local nephrologist immediately to prevent the progress of the kidney disease. The nephrologist will first perform physical checkups and then order blood tests for calcium, hemoglobin, phosphorus, and creatinine levels. Also, the measurement of glomerular filtration rate will be performed to conclusively identify the overall condition of the kidneys and liver. The nephrologist will also likely to look for signs of diabetes and high blood pressure.
When the condition is diagnosed as a stage 5 chronic kidney disease, it’s now considered kidney failure. At this point, the kidneys are unable to operate properly and functioning under 15ml/min of glomerular filtration rate. It means that the individual will be in need of regular hemodialysis sessions to filter their blood from waste products and toxins. Also, the probability of kidney transplant is higher at this point.
Its symptoms are similar to stage 4 chronic kidney disease with the addition of headache, an abnormal change in skin color, and skin irritation to certain parts of the body.
Dealing with Toxins
Kidneys that are no longer functioning as it used to be, means that toxins and waste products aren’t properly flush out that causes a person a general feeling of malaise. It also means that blood pressure isn’t regulated, thus, causing it to increase.
If a person is diagnosed with stage 5 chronic kidney disease, he must work closely with his nephrologist. A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in kidney disease treatment. The doctor will make recommendations and help you decide on which treatment is best for you. Treatment option may include peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis. If kidney condition worsens, a kidney transplant may be necessary. The doctor will also devise a care plan and manage your personal healthcare team.