A Third of Older Adults have Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease

One of our experts tells you everything you need to know.

Alina Livshits, MD

Over time, your kidneys may start to work less efficiently than they used to. Those two bean-shaped organs in your lower back are essential to your health, so it’s worth knowing you could have this common condition.

As an internal medicine physician, Alina Livshits, MD, at Fairview Clinics – Andover, says Stage 3 chronic kidney disease is one of the more frequent topics she gets asked about. Here she answers your questions and offers some advice. 

Q: What is chronic kidney disease? 

A:  The kidneys filter blood, remove waste products from the body and recycle useful materials. So chronic kidney disease is the gradual loss of those functions. It’s described in stages. For example, when someone has Stage 3, it means their kidneys are filtering about half of what they should be, allowing for some fluids, electrolytes and waste to build up in your body. People with Stage 5 often require dialysis several times a week to filter their blood. 

Q: Who is most at risk to develop chronic kidney disease? 

A: The primary causes are high blood pressure and diabetes. If you have either of those, I recommend talking to your doctor about your risk for developing chronic kidney disease. 

Q: How do I know if I have it? 

A: Chronic kidney disease often starts to develop without you noticing it. Symptoms may appear in Stage 3. For those that do experience symptoms, they may include fatigue, swelling around the ankles or eyes, unusually light-colored urine, urinating more frequently or loss of appetite. 
Fortunately, some simple tests can help us measure kidney function and diagnose kidney disease. 

Q: Is it treatable?   

A: Once you get to Stage 3, it’s generally considered to be irreversible. The good news is that the majority of Stage 3 patients do not progress to the more severe stages. But it’s important to work with a doctor to manage this condition. 

Q: What can I do if I have chronic kidney disease? 

A: My best advice is to 

  • Drink enough fluids—six to eight cups of non-caffeinated beverages per day.
  • Avoid medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen, as they may be harmful to people with kidney disease. Acetaminophen is generally safe as long as less than three grams are consumed in any 24-hour period.
  • Check the instructions on all other over-the-counter medication. If they warn you not to take it if you have kidney disease, ask the pharmacist or your primary care physician for more information. 
  • Manage your high blood pressure or diabetes. Keeping these conditions under control is important for your kidneys.  
  • Visit your doctor regularly to help you stay as healthy as possible. 

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