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What Is Kidney Failure?

Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the abdomen toward the back, on each side of the spine. Their key role in the body is to filter the blood and eliminate waste products and excess water. The kidneys also have a function to balance the levels of electrolytes in the body and regulate blood pressure.

Ability of the kidneys to perform their function gradually diminishes in old age. But rapid loss of this ability may occur due to conditions such as blood loss, dehydration or heart attack. This is known as acute kidney failure. On the other hand, kidney failure that develops over the years is known as chronic renal failure and is caused by diseases such as inadequately treated diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension or chronic glomerulonephritis.

Glomerular Filtration Rate

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is a measure of kidney function level and helps to determine the stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Glomerular filtration rate is calculated from the routine blood test. The normal GFR in healthy men is about 100-140 mL/min while in healthy women it is 85-115 mL/min. GFR rate normally decreases with age but in individuals with chronic kidney disease this rate continues to decrease with every stage of kidney failure.

Kidney failure slowly progresses and is divided into five stages. Each stage of kidney failure is marked by specific GFR rates. Here is the list of the GFR values for every stage of the disease:Stage 1 90 mL/min or moreStage 2 60-89 mL/minStage 3 30-59 mL/minStage 4 15-29 mL/minStage 5 below 15mL/min or on dialysisStages of Kidney Failure

Stage 1

In this stage there are slight abnormalities in the function of the kidneys that usually indicate the onset of kidney disease. Only pathological investigation can help to identify these abnormalities. There are many treatment options for stage 1 kidney disease.

Stage 2

In stage 2 kidney disease the GFR rate is slightly reduced. Evaluation of kidney disease is performed with the help of blood test, urinalysis and imaging tests. It is important to make the correct diagnosis in order to determine appropriate treatment for kidney disease.

Stage 3

The GFR rate is moderately reduced in stage 3 kidney disease. However, this stage is classified into two sub-stages, 3A with the GFR level between 45 and 60 mL/min and 3B with the GFR level between 30 and 45 mL/min.

Stage 4

In this stage the GFR value is between 15 and 29 mL/min and it indicates the end stage of the kidney failure. Severely reduced kidney function reflects on other body organs and the only treatment option is kidney replacement therapy.

Stage 5This is the end stage of the kidney failure with the GFR level of 14mL/min or less. In this stage the function of kidneys is almost lost and the disease can only be treated with permanent replacement therapy such as dialysis or kidney transplant.

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