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Stage 3 of Chronic Kidney Disease

Stage 3

Stage 3a: Kidney damage with mild to moderate loss of kidney function, eGFR of 45-59 Stage 3b: Kidney damage with moderate to severe loss of kidney function, eGFR of 30-44

Stage 3 of chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) falls between 30-59, indicating moderate kidney damage and noticeable loss of kidney function. This stage is separated into 2 sub-stages: stage 3a kidney disease with an eGFR of 45-59 and stage 3b with an eGFR of 30-44.

It's important to see your doctor regularly to discuss any changes in your lab values or any symptoms you may be experiencing. Your goal at stage 3 kidney disease is to slow progression. It's also a good time to find a kidney doctor (nephrologist) to oversee your care.

Symptoms of stage 3 kidney disease

Many people do not experience symptoms of kidney disease until the later stages when kidney failure has occurred. Possible stage 3 kidney disease symptoms and signs include:

  • Changes in urination
  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Back pain
  • Muscle cramping

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and have an eGFR of 30-44, talk to your doctor about seeing a kidney doctor (nephrologist). A nephrologist is specially trained in treating kidney disease and the most qualified doctor to help you manage CKD.

Steps to take at stage 3 kidney disease

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices—Eating a kidney-friendly diet, quitting smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight can help you slow progression at stage 3 kidney disease.  
  • Monitor your health—Managing underlying conditions and risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or infection can also help slow the progression of CKD. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you need to modify any of the vitamins, supplements, or medications you may be taking for other health conditions (such as ACE inhibitors or ARBs), or if you start taking any new medications. 
  • Talk to your doctor about a referral to see a kidney doctor—Seeing a kidney doctor (nephrologist) can help you manage your kidney health. Your doctor can help you determine when it's time to see a nephrologist and give you a referral. Once you start seeing a nephrologist, you'll still see your regular doctor to monitor you overall health.
  • Meet with a renal dietitian—Following a kidney-friendly diet is key to slowing the progression of CKD, and you don’t have to do it alone. A renal dietitian can help you address any nutrition concerns and learn about eating well.
  • Learn everything you can about CKD—Taking a KidneyCare:365 class can help you learn more about how to manage and slow the progression of CKD.

Questions to ask your doctor about stage 3 kidney disease 

  • What do my lab values mean?
    The results of your regular bloodwork help your doctor monitor your kidney health and calculate your estimate glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which determines your CKD stage. Changes in your lab values may indicate a change in your kidney function.
  • What should I expect next with CKD?
    A stage 3 kidney disease diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean that your condition will progress to stage 4 or stage 5. With lifestyle changes and a treatment plan from your doctor, it's possible to slow the progression of CKD and preserve kidney function.
  • Am I doing everything I can to slow CKD progression?
    Your doctor may have additional guidance on what you can do to stay your healthiest, including eating well and managing your existing medications—especially if you are managing other health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Looking after your overall health can help you protect your kidney health and feel your best.

Eating healthy with stage 3 kidney disease

Eating a healthier diet is key to feeling your best and staying your healthiest. What you need to eat—and how much—depends on how well your kidneys are working and your individual lab tests. You may also consider asking for a referral to a dietitian. A dietitian can address any nutrition concerns specific to you and help you plan meals that you'll enjoy while keeping your kidneys healthy.

Stage 3 kidney disease life expectancy

While there’s no cure for kidney disease and kidney damage can’t be reversed, taking healthy steps now can help you feel your best and slow the progression of CKD. Many people who are diagnosed with kidney disease in the early stages never progress to kidney failure. People who eventually experience  kidney failure can live well for decades with treatments like a kidney transplant or dialysis.

Learn more about kidney disease stages

Take a free kidney care class
Learn how to look after your kidney health and thrive—in a class that fits your life. Choose an educator-led or self-guided format.
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Why you need a kidney doctor
A nephrologist, also known as a kidney doctor, is the most qualified doctor to help you manage kidney disease. Ask your doctor for a referral to a nephrologist when your eGFR is between 30-44.
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Use our GFR calculator
Estimate your GFR to determine your current CKD stage. You'll need results from a simple GFR blood test to get started.
Calculate your eGFR