Kidney & Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) means that your kidneys stop working well enough to keep you healthy. This is a process that usually takes place over a period of months or years. The process cannot be reversed, but with an early diagnosis, the right treatment and some lifestyle changes, it can be slowed down or in some cases even halted. If you have kidney disease, learn everything you can do about it; the correct treatment and changes in your lifestyle can help you stay healthier for longer. Your doctor will also work closely together with you to do everything to stop or at least slow down the progression of the disease by controlling the underlying causes.

What do kidneys do?

Your two kidneys work more than you realise. The kidneys remove excess body water and waste products 24 hours a day. The excess body water and waste products are removed from your body in the urine.

Besides the “removal” or “cleaning” job, kidneys have several other very important functions:

  • They regulate electrolytes such as potassium and sodium (salt) concentration in your body.
  • They produce hormones to:
    • control blood pressure
    • produce red blood cell
    • keep your bones strong

Five stages of Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD is divided into 5 disease stages (CKD 1-5). CKD stage 3 is often subdivided into 3a and 3b. For simplicity’s sake CKD stages 1 to 3a can be called early stage and CKD 3b to 5 late stage. 

To help you make the right changes in your life it is necessary to know your disease stage, which tells you how far the disease has advanced. The five disease stages are determined on the basis of the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Therefore, it is important for you to understand what the GFR is. 

Glomerular filtration Rate (GFR)

The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measurement of kidney function that can be estimated from a simple blood test which measures the creatinine and albumin levels in your blood as well as taking into consideration your age, race, gender and other factors. By means of the GFR your doctor can determine your stage of kidney disease and plan your treatment. The lower your GFR the higher is the risk of the progression of the disease. The risk of progression provides information about how likely it is that CKD will advance.


In addition to the GFR, the level of albuminuria may be important. Albuminuria means that you have an abnormal amount of protein in your urine, which may be an early sign of ongoing kidney disease and means that your kidneys are not filtering your blood well enough. Albuminuria can be detected using a simple urine dipstick test to see if protein can be found in your urine. The higher your level of albuminuria the higher is your risk of progression of CKD.