Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which kidney function declines gradually over time and can possibly lead to kidney failure in some patients. CKD Stage 3 occurs when your eGFR falls between 30-59. Find out the symptoms, treatment options and how to manage your kidney disease at this stage.  

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) stages

What is Stage 3 CKD?

Stage 3 CKD occurs when your eGFR is between 30 – 59, indicating moderate kidney damage.

At this stage, kidney function declines gradually over time and can possibly lead to kidney failure in some patients. This damage is not reversible but there are many actions that can be taken to slow or stop further kidney damage.

An overview of stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is divided into 5 stages based on kidney function, and whether there are signs of blood or protein in the urine.  

At CKD stage 3, your kidneys have been moderately damaged. Therefore, they are not filtering salts and toxins optimally and maintaining fluid balance may be a problem.   

Based on the level of kidney function, this stage is further split into two sub-stages: CKD Stage 3a where eGFR is between 45 - 59 and CKD Stage 3b where eGFR is between 30 - 44, The stage you are in may result in some variations in the treatment approach.  

At stage 3 CKD, your doctor will closely monitor you to see if there is protein in the urine, as higher amounts of protein can mean more risk of CKD progression and an increased need for treatments.  

Signs & Symptoms of stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Stage 3 CKD is the stage when patients typically start to experience the first signs and symptoms of kidney disease, due to the buildup of toxins and fluids in the body caused by the decline in kidney function.

The symptoms of stage 3 CKD may include:   

  • Fatigue   
  • Swelling in your hands and feet    
  • Change in urine colour or volume 
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Itch 
  • Poor appetite  

These symptoms may not occur at all or at the same time and may appear only gradually as your chronic kidney disease (CKD) progresses. Learn more about the different kidney disease symptoms you may experience and why. 

Causes of stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is often caused by other pre-existing health conditions. Some common causes of CKD are hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.

There are also factors that increase your risk of developing kidney disease or accelerating your CKD progression. Some common CKD risk factors are obesity and smoking.

Learn more about CKD causes and risk factors to manage your stage 3 CKD better.

Diagnosis at stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Patients usually find out that they have chronic kidney disease when they are in stage 3 as that is when they first develop symptoms of kidney disease.

Illustration of woman consulting with doctor about kidney disease and treatment options

Treatment for stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Stage 3 CKD cannot be cured. Treatment for stage 3 CKD is aimed at slowing down the rate of kidney disease progression and managing the health issues caused by declining kidney function. 

Stage 3 CKD treatment includes medications such as Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors which are effective at reducing further kidney damage and slowing down the progression of CKD.  

Other treatments and changes in diet may also be required for possible health issues that may arise due to CKD, such as anaemia or high salt levels. However, there is no requirement for dialysis during stage 3 CKD. 

During stage 3 CKD,  your doctor will also be performing blood and urine tests regularly to gauge your CKD stage and its risk of progression. 

Illustration of doctor explaining kidney treatment to patient

Managing stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Once diagnosed with CKD stage 3, it is important that you make some lifestyle changes and work with your doctor to optimally manage your condition. At this stage, your regular doctor is likely to refer you to a kidney specialist, also known as a nephrologist, to oversee your care in the long run.   

Depending on your overall health, the required lifestyle changes can differ, but typically these will include specific changes to your diet, moderate exercises, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, monitoring your general condition, and any other recommendations that your healthcare team may have for you.  

Illustration of doctor explaining kidney disease condition and treatment options to elderly patient

The prognosis for stage 3 chronic kidney disease  

At CKD stage 3, your kidneys are moderately damaged, and kidney function has declined. Treatments can effectively slow the progression of CKD and manage other health issues.  

 Stage 3 is still far from kidney failure, and a diagnosis at this stage can help improve the disease progression as treatment can commence, and the progression will be monitored carefully. It is possible to stay on CKD stage 3 for years with your kidney disease not progressing to end-stage kidney disease.  

Stage 3 kidney disease life expectancy

Early diagnosis and management of stage 3 CKD can improve life expectancy. While some patients with stage 3 CKD may eventually progress to kidney failure, many people with kidney disease diagnosed in the early stages never do. With treatments such as kidney transplants or dialysis, patients with kidney failure can live for more than 10 years or even decades.


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