What Are the Main Stages of Kidney Failure?

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Kidney failure, or chronic kidney disease, has five stages that are based on the kidneys function as measured by the Glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, states The Renal Association. In stage one, kidneys still function normally, but there are abnormalities that indicate kidney disease. Stage five is end-stage renal failure.

The glomerular filtration rate measures the ability of the kidneys to remove waste from the blood, states WebMD. A urine test is done to determine GFR. A GFR of at least 90 is considered normal and indicates stage one kidney failure if there are other signs of kidney damage.

At stage two, GFR ranges between 60 and 89, which is considered mildly low, advises WebMD. During stages one and two, doctors aim to control blood pressure and sugar levels and monitor the patient’s condition and disease progression.

Stage three kidney failure is reached when GFR measures between 30 and 59, states WebMD. At this point, doctors begin to look for and treat other complications, such as bone disease and anemia. During stage four kidney failure, GFR measures between 15 and 29. Patients must decide what treatment options they want to pursue as they move into the end-stage of the disease.

When GFR drops below 15, the patient is in stage five kidney failure, states WebMD. Patients may start dialysis to filter blood, have a kidney transplant or receive palliative care to manage pain and improve quality of life.