I have decided to write this article because I have a client whose doctor told him his GFR was below normal but that he was 'okay' and that his kidneys would outlive him. Time rolled by without treatment, his GFR dropped to 35 and he is now being told he has kidney disease. If anyone tells you that you have any of the following, start to understand what kidney disease is, and which stage you may be in:
- GFR below 90
- Protein in the urine
- Albumin in the urine
- Physical damage to the kidneys
GFR stands for glomerular filtration rate. It is part of a lab test titled Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP). It is usually seen through routine blood work. Two other markers to view on this panel to monitor the kidneys are BUN and Creatinine. As kidney disease progresses, the electrolytes on this same panel are helpful to monitor what the kidneys are having trouble clearing.
Here are the parameters to determine the Stage of kidney disease a person has:
Stage 1: GFR greater than 90 and presence of kidney damage
Stage 2: GFR between 60-89 and kidney damage
Stage 3a: GFR between 45-59 and kidney damage
Stage 3b: GFR between 30-44 and kidney damage
Stage 4: GFR between 15-30 and kidney damage
Stage 5: GFR less than 15. Kidneys are very close to failure or have already failed. This is the stage nephrologists highly recommend dialysis.
People can experience symptoms or no symptoms at all during kidney disease. They are more likely to present themselves in later stages if they have not in the early stages. They may include:
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Back pain
- Urinating less than normal
- Blood in urine
- Bone pain
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
- Dry, itchy skin
- Muscle cramps (particularly in the legs)
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Trouble breathing
- Anemia may be seen on routine blood work as well, through a lab test called Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Some of the major risk factors that could damage the kidneys are uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled Diabetes, Lupus, or chronic smoking and recreational drug use.
If you are in the early stages, do not take it lightly. Get really progressive about your health. Appropriate diet, herbs, getting other pre-existing conditions under control, reducing stress, and consistency with all these things long term can help preserve kidney function.