Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which the kidneys slowly lose their ability to function. Because the kidneys normally act to filter the blood and remove toxins and waste products, people with chronic kidney disease experience a buildup of these substances in their blood.
There are five stages of chronic kidney disease. In the second stage, kidney disease is still relatively mild. What are the signs of stage 2 kidney disease? How do you know if you have this disease? Is there any way to prevent progression into more advanced stages?
The stages of kidney disease are classified based on the estimated glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR. This assesses how well the kidneys are able to filter the blood. To determine the eGFR, a blood test is done to check the levels of creatinine, which is a waste product that’s normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. Based on these levels and certain patient factors, the eGFR can be calculated.
For people with stage 2 kidney disease, the eGFR is 60 to 89. An eGFR of 90 or higher is generally considered to be in the normal range, so this represents a mild loss of kidney function.
In stage 2, kidney damage is still relatively mild. However, it’s important to take it seriously. If the underlying cause of the kidney damage is not addressed, then it’s likely that it will progress, causing more and more damage to the body and often requiring dialysis. Kidney disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the US, so when it’s caught at an early stage, this is a good opportunity to take action to prevent it from progressing and becoming life-threatening.
Even though stage 2 CKD is still relatively mild, it still does have an impact on life expectancy. For example, the life expectancy for a 30-year-old man with early-stage kidney disease is approximately 39 years. This is somewhat shorter than the predicted life expectancy for a man of this age, which is about 45 to 50 years.
At this stage, the kidneys have experienced only a mild loss of function. Because of this, many people don’t even notice any symptoms of stage 2 kidney disease. Symptoms like fatigue, increased urination, nausea, itchy skin, and trouble sleeping may show up in later stages, but it’s uncommon to notice any symptoms at all in stage 2.
In CKD stage 2, symptoms may not be apparent. Testing is the only way to know whether you have kidney disease, and to monitor its progression. If you have a condition that puts you at higher risk, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney disease, then it’s a good idea to get your kidney function tested regularly to ensure that you don’t have kidney damage. You can go into a laboratory to get tested, or you can use a home testing kit to check your kidney function from home. You collect your own samples and send them to a laboratory, and then you get your results online. If your results are abnormal, you’ll be connected with a healthcare professional to discuss your options.
Without treatment of the underlying cause of the disease, CKD will usually progress into more advanced stages. However, if you take action to address the cause of the kidney damage, this can make a significant difference, and can greatly reduce the likelihood that you will end up with advanced kidney disease. Some people spend decades in stage 2 kidney disease, without ever progressing to stage 3 or beyond.
There is no known cure for chronic kidney disease. In general, once there has been damage to the kidney, there is no known way to reverse this damage. However, there are steps that you can take to reduce the chances that the disease will progress to more advanced stages.
The most common causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. Ensuring that you keep both your blood sugar and your blood pressure under control will help to protect your kidneys from damage. For those who are significantly overweight, losing weight may be helpful. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise are important. If you need medications to control your blood pressure, make sure that you take these regularly, even if you feel fine without them. Even without symptoms, high blood pressure is causing damage to various parts of your body, including your kidneys. Similarly, if you need medications to help control your blood sugar, it’s important to take these regularly.
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