- Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease
- Kidney Disease Stages
- What Is a Nephrologist?
- What to Expect with CKD
- Managing Kidney Disease
- Understanding Acute Kidney Injury
- How Kidneys Work
- Take a FREE CLASS on Kidney Disease
Understanding Chronic Kidney DiseaseUnderstanding Chronic Kidney Disease
Diagnosis and Testing for Chronic Kidney Disease
Timely chronic kidney disease (CKD) testing is key to early detection and diagnosis. Taking action at each stage of chronic kidney disease can help keep your kidneys working longer and delay the need for treatment. If you receive a kidney disease diagnosis, you’ll be tested regularly to track any progression in your condition. Make testing a priority! Getting a regular kidney function test and following your doctor’s exact instructions can help you best manage your health.
How is kidney disease diagnosed?
A simple kidney function test can help your doctor determine whether you have kidney disease. After measuring your creatinine levels with a simple blood test, your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) can be calculated using age, weight, body size, ethnicity, and gender. Your eGFR indicates how well your kidneys are functioning. An eGFR of 120 or less can indicate kidney disease. Your doctor may also perform other tests before determining a kidney disease diagnosis.
GFR test results indicate the stages of CKD
Each stage of kidney disease corresponds with an eGFR range. It’s important to know your eGFR so you can make informed decisions about your kidney health.
5 Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease
Select a CKD stage to learn more.
|CKD stage||Description||Possible signs & symptoms||eGFR|
|Stage 1||Kidney damage with normal kidney function||High blood pressure, swelling in legs, urinary tract infections or abnormal urine test||90 or higher|
|Stage 2||Mild loss of kidney function||60–89|
|Stage 3||3a: Mild to moderate loss of kidney function;
3b: Moderate to severe loss of kidney function
|Changes in urination, swelling in hands and feet, weakness or fatigue, dry and itchy skin, back pain, muscle cramping||3a: 45–59
|Stage 4||Severe loss of kidney function||Anemia, decreased appetite, bone disease or abnormal blood levels of phosphorus, calcium, or vitamin D||15–29|
End stage renal
|Kidney failure or close to kidney failure||Uremia, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, abnormal thyroid levels, swelling in hands/legs/eyes/lower back or lower back pain||Less than 15|
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Additional tests for assessing CKD
|What it measures||How it’s performed||What results mean|
|Albuminuria-to-creatinine ratio (ACR)||Amount of albumin, a type of protein, present in urine||Spot urine sample test||30 mg/gm or less = normal
Higher than 30 mg/gm = a possible sign of kidney disease
|Blood pressure||Pressure created by the force of blood flow through your blood vessels||In the doctor’s office with an inflatable cuff, pressure gauge, and stethoscope||119 or lower/79 or lower = normal
130 or higher/80 or higher = high
High blood pressure may indicate elevated risk of CKD and requires further diagnostic testing
|Serum creatinine||Levels of creatinine, a waste product from normal muscle use||Blood analysis||Serum creatinine results of greater than 1.2 for women or greater than 1.4 for men = early sign that kidneys are not working properly|
|Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)||Levels of urea nitrogen from the breakdown of protein in food eaten||Blood analysis||BUN levels of 7–19 = normal
BUN levels of 20 or greater may be an indication of decreasing kidney function (or dehydration)
|Your doctor may perform other tests, including a kidney biopsy, ultrasound imaging, or CT scan.|
Who should get tested for CKD?
Be your own advocate! If you have risk factors like diabetes or high blood pressure, or have a family history of kidney failure, you should talk to your doctor and get tested for CKD at least once a year. CKD should be treated as early as possible to slow progression. If you are diagnosed with CKD, work together with your doctor to protect your kidneys—you will need to get certain tests on a regular basis to monitor your ongoing kidney health.
The importance of testing
Getting tested to check your kidney health is critical to your current and future well-being. Whether you and your doctor are seeking a diagnosis or monitoring how well your treatment plan is working, acting early is always best. For CKD, the sooner your doctor can confirm a diagnosis, the earlier you can get started on an effective treatment plan to help preserve kidney function and slow progression.