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Chronic Renal Failure Stages

Chronic renal failure refers to the gradual loss of function in the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste matter and excess fluids from the blood stream and eliminating them through the urine. When there is loss of kidney function, the waste and fluid levels can accumulate in the body and this can be dangerous to health. Treatment options for chronic renal failure are aimed at controlling the progression of the damage. Renal failure in its end stages can be fatal if dialysis or a kidney transplant is not done.
There are five stages of chronic kidney disease and these stages are based on the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). In a healthy individual, the GFR is approximately mL/min or above. This rate keeps declining in each stage. Here is a brief description of the chronic renal failure stages.
  • Chronic renal failure stage 1 – The GFR levels are in the normal range, but there may some irregularities in kidney functioning which are usually found in pathological examinations. This indicates the onset of renal disease. There are various ways to treat the disease at this stage.
  • Chronic renal failure stage 2 – The GFR levels drop slightly and at this stage, blood and urine testing may be done to further examine the extent of kidney disease. A thorough diagnosis is necessary in order to begin treatment.
  • Chronic renal failure stage 3 – The GFR levels decrease moderately. There are two more sub-stages known as 3A and 3B. In stage 3A, the GFR level is within the range of 45 to 60 mL/min and in stage 3B, the GFR level is within the range of 35 to 40 mL/min. Screening for the disease must be done properly at this stage so that further damage to the kidneys is prevented.
  • Chronic renal failure stage 4 – In this stage, the GFR level falls to 15 to 29 mL/min and this is indicative of end stage renal failure. Due to the damage and dysfunction of the kidneys, the other body organs are also affected. Renal replacement therapy is the only way to treat the condition at this stage.
  • Chronic renal failure stage 5 – The GFR levels drop very low and the kidneys almost stop functioning completely. Only dialysis or a kidney transplant can ensure survival at this point.

Chronic Renal Failure Symptoms

There may not be many signs and symptoms in the initial stages of chronic renal failure. The symptoms become prominent when there is considerable disruption in kidney function. The symptoms tend to appear gradually if there is a slow progression of renal damage. Chronic renal failure symptoms in humans include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, disrupted urine output, tiredness, weakness, problems in sleeping and reduced mental alertness. The individual may also experience muscle cramps, swollen ankles and feet and itching. Many of the chronic renal failure signs in adults may resemble those of other illnesses. Also the kidneys are able to adapt rather well to loss of function and hence the disease may be noticed quite late. Chronic renal failure symptoms in children include fever, nighttime bedwetting, discomfort during urination and high blood pressure.
It is important to consult a doctor when any of these signs and symptoms are experienced. Individuals with chronic illnesses that elevate the risk of chronic renal failure have to be evaluated regularly for blood pressure levels and kidney function through blood and urine tests.

Chronic Renal Failure Causes

Acute or chronic conditions may be responsible for renal failure. Here are some of the most common chronic renal failure causes and risk factors. In acute renal failure, the kidney loses function rather quickly due to various causes. The prerenal causes of kidney failure are those which involve damage to other parts of the body which in turn result in loss of kidney function. These include low blood volume, inadequate fluid intake, dehydration, intake of certain medications and disruption in blood flow in and out of the kidney due to obstructions or blockages. Renal causes of kidney failure include damage that occurs directly to the kidney. These include sepsis which is a serious condition wherein the entire body goes into an inflammatory state. Intake of certain medications such as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some antibiotics can also be toxic to the kidneys. Other renal causes of kidney failure include rhabdomyolysis in which the muscles of the body breakdown and the muscle fibers block the kidneys. Diseases which trigger inflammation in the kidney’s filtering system may also lead to kidney failure. Post renal causes are those which affect the urine output. These include blockages in the bladder, prostate cancer, tumors and kidney stones. Chronic renal failure occurs due to poorly managed diabetes, unregulated high blood pressure and chronic glomerulonephritis. Some of the rarer causes of chronic renal failure include kidney stones, prostate disease and polycystic kidney disease.

Chronic Renal Failure Treatment

There is no chronic renal failure cure, but there are treatment options which help to manage the disease. Chronic renal failure treatment guidelines must be followed properly so that the symptoms are controlled and the progression of the disease is slowed down. Treatment is aimed at making the individual more comfortable and hence may involve medications to regulate blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol, treat anemia, alleviate swelling and protect the bones. A beneficial chronic renal failure remedy is to modify the diet so that there is a lower level of waste matter in the blood. This involves following a diet that is low in protein. Treatment for end stage chronic renal failure involves dialysis or kidney transplant. In dialysis, the waste products and fluid from the blood is removed artificially. In hemodialysis, the blood is transferred from the body to a machine where it is filtered and then pumped back. In peritoneal dialysis, a solution is introduced in the abdominal cavity which absorbs the waste and excess fluid from the blood. In a kidney transplant, a healthy kidney is placed inside the body through a surgical procedure.
Submitted on January 16, 2014