What are the stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Learn about the stages of CKD

CKD can range from mild to very severe. CKD has no cure. It is a progressive disease, so it can get worse over time if not effectively managed. 

The 5 stages of CKD describe the severity of the kidney dysfunction. People can’t tell how bad their CKD is because they often don’t have any symptoms until later stages. The earlier CKD is detected, the better the chance of slowing or stopping its progression.

5 stages

What are the 5 stages of CKD?

The 5 stages of CKD range from Stage 1 to Stage 5. Stage 1 has the least amount of kidney damage and therefore the highest percentage of kidney function remaining (as measured by estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR]). Your kidney function tells you how well you are currently able to filter your blood. As you progress from Stage 1 to Stage 5, your kidney function declines and so does your ability to filter.

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How is kidney function measured?

Your healthcare provider determines your CKD stage based on kidney damage, which is measured by the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). 

GFR measures how much kidney function you have. A low GFR may mean your kidneys are no longer working as well as they should to remove waste and excess fluid from your body. 

A formula is used to calculate an eGFR based on your blood creatinine level (a waste product), age, gender, race, and body size. It should be noted that even in adults without kidney disease, GFR gradually declines with age.

Based on your CKD stage, your healthcare provider can create a treatment plan intended to slow the progression of kidney function decline. The earlier kidney disease is detected, the better the chance of this happening. 

Defining the stages of CKD

What are the symptoms of CKD?

Healthy kidneys remove excess fluid and waste from your blood. When your kidneys don’t work as well as they are supposed to, excess fluid and waste can build up in your blood and make you feel sick.

In the early stages of kidney disease, many people don’t have any symptoms. Some people don’t know they have CKD until their kidneys fail. Symptoms usually show up later as the disease progresses.

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Advanced kidney disease symptoms

Even though symptoms vary by individual, some are more common than others. One or more of the following symptoms may mean your kidneys are no longer working properly:

  • You may feel weaker or more tired than usual.
  • Your hands or your feet may swell.
  • You may experience unexpected shortness of breath.
  • You may not have a big appetite, potentially causing you to lose weight.
  • You may have an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
  • You may feel nauseated or need to vomit.
  • You may not be able to sleep as well as usual.
  • Your skin may itch unexpectedly.
  • Your muscles may hurt or cramp.
  • Your skin might appear darker than normal.

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should talk to your clinician.

Other pages you may be interested in!

Image of kidneys

What is CKD?

CKD is a condition where there is a gradual loss of kidney function over time.

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How can I find out if I have CKD?

About 1 in 7 adults in the United States are estimated to have CKD, and most are undiagnosed. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if you have CKD.