For many people with Chronic Kidney Disease there are only two options, dialysis or organ transplant. So according to Sally Joy of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, the earlier the illness is caught the better.
"We can give them more years of kidney function before it progresses into eventually needing some kind of treatment for kidney failure."
Glomerular Filtration Rate or GFR is a simple number that can detect early kidney disease. It's determined through a blood test and factors in things such as age, race, and gender. The results can give you an idea of your kidney function depending on what stage you are in (1-5).
"So if your GFR's 100 that would mean your kidney's are working 100 percent. As your kidney function declines your GFR declines."
The first stage of kidney disease would put you at a GFR above 90, meaning there are signs of kidney damage, but the organs are still working. The fifth stage of the illness would put you at a GFR of 15 or below, and that means kidney failure.
"Most people don't realize that almost half of kidney failure is caused by unmanaged diabetes and about a quarter is caused by unmanaged hypertension."
So it's important to catch early on by asking your doctor for your GFR results, especially if you are at risk because with early treatment you can extend the life of your kidneys.
"We can slow their progression and manage kidney disease. So they have many more years before they need dialysis or a kidney transplant."