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Home > Services > Kidney Care > Kidney Conditions > Kidney Disease Stages

Kidney Disease Stages

As one of Virginia's top kidney care programs, UVA offers comprehensive care and treatments for all stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Expert Kidney Care at Every Stage

When you find out you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you may have a lot of questions. At UVA, we are here to provide you with a clear, personalized treatment plan.

CKD happens when your kidneys slowly lose their ability to filter your blood. As a chronic condition, CKD does not happen overnight and it does not go away. In fact, people with CKD become sicker over time. The goal of CKD care is to slow the progression of kidney damage and protect you from kidney failure, which is the most serious form of CKD.

CKD Stage 1

In stage 1, your kidneys still function normally. Many people do not even know they are sick. We often detect the first signs of kidney disease through urinalysis when testing for another condition.

 Care and treatment in stage 1 may include:

  • Diagnostic tests: Your primary physician may perform additional kidney disease tests or ask about your family medical history. 
  • Managing kidney disease risks: Managing other conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure can slow the progression of CKD. We offer education, help you make lifestyle changes and prescribe medications if necessary.
  • Ongoing kidney care: In stage 1, you can expect to come back for additional kidney testing every 12 months.

CKD Stage 2

In stage 2, your kidneys may be having trouble keeping up with your body’s needs. Even though your kidneys are starting to show signs of damage, many people in stage 2 do not experience symptoms.

Care and treatment in stage 2 includes:

  • Referral to a nephrologist: Our nephrologists deliver comprehensive care for all stages of kidney disease. We offer four dedicated CKD clinics throughout Central Virginia. 
  • Imaging tests: We use imaging tests to look for signs of permanent kidney damage. We offer a complete range of tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans and diagnostic X-ray.
  • Managing other medical conditions: We help you manage kidney disease risks, such as diabetes, through special diabetes care and support programs. If you have high blood pressure, we may coordinate additional services through our Heart and Vascular Center.  
  • Ongoing kidney care: In stage 2, you can expect to come back for additional care and testing every 6 to 12 months.

CKD Stage 3

As your kidney function declines, you may start feeling sick. This is because waste products and toxins are building up in your blood. You may also start experiencing kidney disease complications, such as anemia or difficulty managing other medical conditions.

As leading kidney disease experts, we help you understand the diagnosis, then work together to develop a personalized care plan. 

Care and treatment in stage 3 includes:

  • Kidney care: Taking medications and changing your diet can help you manage symptoms and prevent complications.  
  • Learning about kidney disease: Learning as much as possible may relieve some of the anxiety you are feeling and help you and your family make good treatment decisions. 
  • Modifying your lifestyle: Simple changes, such as eating kidney-friendly foods, can help maximize your remaining kidney function. We work with you and your family to set goals and help you achieve them. 
  • Ongoing kidney care: In stage 3, you can expect to come back for additional care and testing every 3 to 6 months.

It is possible for symptoms come on suddenly, especially in people who do not know they have kidney disease. If this happens to you, we offer special clinics and expert care to help you feel better. 

CKD Stage 4

In stage 4, you have severe kidney damage. As your kidneys continue to lose function, you may experience new symptoms such as fatigue and itchy skin.

Our goal in stage 4 is to optimize any remaining kidney function. Care and treatment in stage 4 includes:

  • Kidney care: Medications can help manage symptoms and complications. Additional changes to your diet, such as limiting the amount of fluids you consume, can ease the amount of work your kidneys need to do.
  • Ongoing kidney care: In stage 4, you can expect to come back for additional care and testing every three months, or more frequently if needed.

We also help you consider life-saving treatments in case your kidneys stop working (kidney failure):

  • Dialysis: Dialysis uses different techniques to filter your blood and help you maintain proper fluid balance. UVA is home to one of the largest academic dialysis facilities in the country, giving us access to the latest treatments available.
  • Kidney transplant: A kidney transplant is an operation to replace your kidneys with healthy donor kidneys. Our kidney transplant program is one of the busiest in Virginia and cares for patients from across the country.
  • Preparing for kidney failure treatment: We help you physically and emotionally prepare for the next steps in your care. Learn more about what happens before a kidney transplant or what to expect when preparing for dialysis. 

CKD Stage 5

In stage 5, your kidneys stop functioning. This diagnosis can be a very stressful and frightening time for you and your family. Our team of nephrologists, nurses and social workers are here for you. We offer treatments, encouragement and support to help you adjust to new routines and get back to your busy lifestyle. Many people in stage 5 are able to live independently, work and travel.  

 Care and treatment in stage 5 includes:

  • Dialysis: Dialysis uses different techniques to filter your blood and help you maintain proper fluid balance. 
  • Kidney transplant: A kidney transplant can restore near normal kidney functioning. Our program’s 40-year history helps you achieve the best possible outcomes. 

You may choose to have dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant.

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