Stages of Kidney failure: A detailed Analysis

Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs situated on either side of the spine below the ribs. They are used to filter all the waste, toxins, and excess fluid from the blood. The filtered waste is then stored in the bladder and excreted from the body through urine. They produce hormones responsible for controlling blood pressure, creating red blood cells, and keeping your bones strong and healthy.

Common habits that damage the kidneys are

  • Insufficient intake of water
  • Keeping your bladder full for prolonged periods
  • High salt consumption – high accumulation of sodium in salt leads to high pressure in kidneys
  • Excess alcohol consumption – alcohol has high amounts of toxins and uric acid when accumulated, lead to kidney stones and failure
  • Smoking leads to blockage of blood flow to the kidneys
  • Excess consumption of coffee, soft drinks, and chocolates – Caffeine in these leads to pressure in kidneys
  • Unhealthy food habits cause kidney damage. Preservatives, additives, chemical flavors, artificial coloring agents, pesticides added to the food may drastically affect kidneys.
  • Environmental factors, stress, and today’s lifestyle also affect the proper functioning of the kidneys.
  • Obesity – if the body mass index increases, the kidneys have to work more, which in turn affects hyperfiltration.

Diagnosis

Most people don’t have awareness of kidney-related symptoms and diseases. Initially, they seek the advice of general physicians or family doctors. And later on, after some follow-ups and tests, they are advised to consult a Kidney Specialist or Nephrologist.

Diseases treated by nephrologists are –

  • The nephrotic syndrome involves leakage of protein in the urine
  • Inflammation of the kidneys caused by  disorder ofbhe Immune system.
  • Kidney infections
  • Diabetic kidney disease
  • Poor blood flow to the kidneys
  • Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Acute Kidney injury or failure

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) – causes

  • Diabetics – high blood sugar – one of the major causes of kidney diseases. Studies say that around 40 percent of diabetics are prone to kidney diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Genetic reasons
  • Renal stone disease
  • Infection due to drugs and toxins
  • Untreated urinary infection
  • Urinary blockage
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Self-medication especially pain killers

CKD – Stages –

Creatinine is a waste product generated by muscle metabolism. The level of Creatinine is an approximate indicator of the efficiency of kidney functioning. The higher the creatinine level, the lower will be the efficiency of kidneys from removing it. Blood tests are taken to see the amount of creatinine, urea, and other toxins in the blood. Later, kidney function is estimated indirectly by calculating the Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) based on some formulae. GFR is the rate at which the kidneys filter the blood per minute. The GFR of well-functioning kidneys is estimated to be 125 ml per minute. Based on this rate, the stages of CKD are analyzed. 

Stage 1 – At this stage, the GFR ranges between 90 and 125. Here, the kidneys are considered to be functioning normally. Normal urine and blood tests are conducted, especially for diabetic and high blood pressure patients. 

There may be no symptoms and no treatment needed. The patients may be advised to follow balanced diets, exercise daily for at least 30 minutes, avoid smoking, maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure levels. 

Stage 2 – At this stage, GFR is between 60 and 89.

Symptoms: The patients may show mild symptoms of kidney damage like weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite, sleeping disorders, and itchiness. 

Treatment: Now, patients need to consult a nephrologist to find out the cause. This is only an early stage and the patients need not worry or panic. If they follow the advice of the doctor, then the progression of this disease could be controlled. 

Stage 3 – Here the eGFR is between 59 and 30. Now the efficiency of kidneys is slowing down. The kidneys don’t filter the toxins and wastes properly.

Symptoms: Besides the symptoms of stage 2, patients likely to suffer from

  • Persistent itching,
  • Swelling in feet and ankles
  • Anemia
  • Urinating more or less than usual
  • High blood pressure
  • Bone disease

Treatment: Patients are prescribed with –

  • High BP control medicines and cholesterol control medicines.
  • A low salt diet to reduce the excess fluids in the body.
  • Vitamin D supplements to strengthen the bones.
  • Low protein diet to reduce the pressure on kidneys.
  • Patients need to have frequent visits to the doctor at this stage.

Stage 4 – Now the GFR is below 29 and above 15. Kidneys are probably reaching the critical stage. 

Symptoms: Along with Stage2 and Stage 3 symptoms, patients will possibly get

  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High risk of heart disease and stroke

Treatment: In addition to following the usual medication and diet, doctors advise getting prepared for  Dialysis or Kidney Transplantation.

Stage 5 – At this stage, the eGFR is below 15, which denotes that the patient is having kidney failure.

Symptoms: As this is the critical stage,  patients suffer from kidney failure symptoms such as

  • No appetite
  • Severe weakness and fatigue
  • Lack of mental sharpness
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke

Treatment: This is life-threatening and the patient should undergo a Dialysis or Kidney transplant. Dialysis is not a complete cure, but it removes excess waste and fluids from the blood either by Hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis involves a dialysis machine and a special filter called a dialyzer or artificial kidney. In this process, blood is taken from the patient’s body through veins and passed to the dialyzer. It filters the toxins and wastes from the blood. The purified blood is returned to the body.

This is done either in the hospital, in the dialysis center, or at home, whichever is best suited to the patient. 

Peritoneal dialysis involves blood purification done inside the patient’s body itself. Here, a soft tube, called a catheter is inserted into the abdomen. During the treatment, a dialysis solution from a bag is flown into the abdomen through the catheter. Soon after the bag is empty, it is disconnected from the catheter. The patient can move and do their normal activities along with the bag.

Dialysis solution inside your abdomen absorbs the wastes and toxins from the blood.

After few hours, this solution with all the wastes will be collected into the empty bag. The patient can discard this waste solution.

Kidney Transplant is a life-saving treatment, which needs donors of healthy kidneys. The donor may be a living or deceased person. Here, the failed kidneys are replaced by healthy kidneys through surgery.

To conclude, it is evident that healthy habits like following a balanced diet along with proper physical activity, maintaining blood sugar and blood pressure, having stress-free and good sleep, quitting smoke and alcohol could prevent kidney diseases. Taking good care of your health without being ignorant is essential if you do not want to undergo such painstaking experiences. Also, go to regular health checkups to detect the presence of any possible kidney disease at an early stage.