Chronic Kidney Disease: What You Need To Know

It’s so easy to take our bodily functions for granted, merely because we are not aware of what exactly is going on inside our bodies. As humans we’d like to think we are immortal and, therefore, assume that we’ll be healthy for the rest of our lives.

When I started working in a dialysis clinic, I had no idea what to expect. I never knew that so many people were suffering from kidney disease. I realized that even though it is as common as Cancer, Hypertension and Diabetes, most of us remain unaware and uneducated with regards to kidney disease and kidney failure.

So let me tell you a little bit about kidney disease..

Please note that this is merely a guideline for informational purposes. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult with your doctor.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the gradual loss of kidney function. The main function of your kidneys are to filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood, which are then excreted to your urine. If your kidneys are not functioning properly, it creates a build up of fluid and toxins in the body. CKD may not become apparent until your kidney function is significantly impaired.

There are 5 stages of Chronic Kidney Disease. These stages are based on your GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate). The GFR measures how well the kidneys filter waste and toxins from the blood.


Stage 1:      eGFR >90

Stage 2:      eGFR 60 – 89

Stage 3 A:  eGFR 45 – 59

Stage 3 B:  eGFR 30 – 44

Stage 4:      eGFR 15 – 29

Stage 5:      eGFR <15


How to slow down kidney damage:

  • Control blood sugar if you suffer from Diabetes
  • Control blood pressure if you suffer from Hypertension / Hypo-tension
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Maintain a healthy weight


Symptoms of CKD only become more apparent in Stage 4. With an eGFR of 15-30, you may be refferred to a nephrologist and dietitian, and may experience the following:


  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Back Pain
  • Urinating more or less than normal
  • Likeliness of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Likeliness of Anemia (Insufficient amounts of red blood cells)
  • Likeliness of Bone Disease (Due to unbalanced Calcium and Phosphorus levels)

When you get to Stage 5 CKD, you will have severe symptoms as the kidneys have usually stopped working. If your kidneys fail, toxins and wastes build up in the blood.

Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Swelling in hands and feet
  • Back pain
  • Urinating more or less than normal
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble sleeping

Once your kidneys have failed (CKD Stage 5), you will need to start dialysis or have a kidney transplant to live.

There are several things to consider while preparing to start dialysis. You will need to discuss all of these with your Nephrologist:

  • Type of dialysis
  • Type of vascular access
  • Finances and employment
  • Social circumstances

Working in a dialysis centre, I know how kidney disease destroys the human body. There are a lot of complications accompanying CKD. If you have a history of Diabetes or Hypertension, I want to encourage you to please discuss this with your Doctor, and ask her to provide more information on dietary changes to prevent CKD.


If you’re interested in reading more about the different types of dialysis, visit


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South African Lifestyle Blogger. Blogging in the fields of Lifestyle, Relationships, Parenting, Health and Psychology.

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