Understanding your kidneys is the first step in taking control of your health. Following a kidney-friendly diet, taking good care of diabetes, hypertension and other health conditions, and not smoking may help your kidneys function better and longer, even when you have kidney disease. Your kidneys — two bean-shaped organs located in your lower back — play a more important role in your overall health than you may realize. They are your body’s filtration system, cleaning wastes and extra fluids from your body and producing and balancing chemicals that are necessary for your body to function. The more you know about how kidneys work, the less you'll need to ask, "what is kidney disease?"
Get the 411 on kidney disease »
What is kidney disease? Well, one of the first things to know is that kidney disease comes in stages. Knowing your chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage is important for deciding your treatment. CKD has five stages, ranging from nearly normal kidney function (stage 1) to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or transplant (stage 5). Understanding your stage can help you learn how to take control and slow the progression of your condition.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best measure of kidney function. The GFR is the number used to figure out a person’s stage of kidney disease. A math formula using the person’s age, race, gender and their serum creatinine is used to calculate a GFR. A doctor will order a blood test to measure the serum creatinine level. Creatinine is a waste product that comes from muscle activity. When kidneys are working well they remove creatinine from the blood. As kidney function slows, blood levels of creatinine rise.
Below shows the five stages of CKD and GFR for each stage:
Once you know the GFR you can determine a stage of kidney disease and read about that particular stage by clicking on a link below:
If you would like to see a doctor who specializes in the care of kidneys, called a nephrologist, you can use DaVita's Find a Kidney Doctor tool to locate a nephrologist in your area.
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