What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) refers to all conditions of the kidney, lasting at least 3 months, affecting the filtration and removal of waste from the blood by the kidneys (indicating kidney dysfunction), and/or leakage of protein or albumin in the urine (indicating kidney damage). CKD is common, costly and often detected too late to be reversible, but it is largely preventable because many of its risk factors—high blood pressure, tobacco smoking, overweight and obesity, and impaired glucose regulation—are modifiable (Cass et al. 2010; Wyld et al. 2015).

Stages of kidney disease

Early stages (1–2)

There are usually no symptoms as the kidneys are still able to function when they are slightly damaged. This makes diagnosis difficult.

Middle stages (3–4)

Level of waste (urea and creatinine) in the blood rises and the person starts to feel unwell. Kidney function slows down with increased urination.

End stage (5)

Person requires dialysis or a transplant to stay alive.


Cass A, Chadban S, Gallagher M, Howard K, Jones A, McDonald S et al. 2010. The economic impact of end-stage kidney disease in Australia: projections to 2020. Melbourne: Kidney Health Australia.

Wyld MLR, Lee CMY, Zhuo X, White S, Shaw JE, Morton RL et al. 2015. Cost to government and society of chronic kidney disease stages 1–5: a national cohort study. Internal Medicine Journal 45(7):741–7.