Can You Live With Stage I Kidney Disease?

Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2022
stage 1 kidney disease life expectancy
Because you can halt further kidney damage with diet modification and supportive treatment, patients can live an extra 30 years following their stage I CKD diagnosis.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease (CKD), and in most cases, kidney damage cannot be reversed. But it is possible to halt the kidney damage at Stage I with diet modification and supportive treatment.

The patient with stage I kidney disease has mild kidney damage with a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 90 mL/min/1.73 m2 or greater than that (normal value is 125 mL/min/1.73 m2).

Not all patients have serious issues with the early onset of kidney damage, and most of the patients with CKD may live long without any serious complications. It is estimated that an average person may live for an extra 30 years following diagnosis. 

CKD is damage to the kidneys, resulting in a loss of their ability to filter the blood gradually. Your doctor examines the kidney functions and GFR to determine the extent of the kidney damage.

CKD has five stages and stage I is the early stage.

What is stage I kidney disease?

If a patient with stage I chronic kidney disease (CKD) has a glomerular filtration rate of 90 mL/min/1.73 m2 or greater with little or no physical signs, their kidney function is normal. 

Because the kidneys are still functioning normally at this point, most people are unaware that they have stage I CKD.

Some patients may have other indicators of renal impairment such as loss of protein in the urine (proteinuria), which is usually diagnosed through routine urine examination.

What are the signs and symptoms of kidney disease?

Stage I kidney disease usually does not present with any symptoms, and most diagnoses are made during a routine blood check.

However, some of the following signs may help diagnose advanced kidney disease:

What are the risk factors of kidney disease?

Stage I kidney disease usually does not present with any symptoms and gradually processes into renal failure.

Kidney diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States. Therefore, it is important to eliminate or manage the risk factors that cause kidney disease.

The following are risk factors for kidney disease:


The only purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood. See Answer

How do doctors diagnose stage I kidney disease?

Patients with Stage I kidney disease do not have any signs of kidney damage despite the organ's reduction in functional ability. 

Usually, a diagnosis of kidney damage is made while examining for other disorders, such as diabetes and hypertension, or a routine blood check.

So, patients with risk factors of developing kidney disease are advised to get an assessment of their general health and undergo the following tests:

Blood tests

Blood workup shows the presence of certain chemicals or toxins in the blood, which are usually eliminated by the kidneys through urine:

  • High levels of creatinine 
  • High levels of urea 

Glomerular filtration rate

The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is used to assess kidney function. Knowing the GFR helps your doctor to determine the stage of kidney disease. 

GFR score (eGFR) is based on your age, serum creatinine level, and gender. The National Kidney Foundation recommends using the CKD-EPI Creatinine Equation (2021) to estimate GFR.


The presence of proteins (albumin) in the urine may indicate kidney disease

Radiological tests

Other radiological tests are done to determine the shape, structure, and functionality of the kidneys:

How you can protect your kidneys from further damage

If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, collaborate with your doctor to protect and preserve your kidneys' health.

Here are some tips to protect your kidneys from further damage:

  • Consult your doctor on regular basis to get medical assistance for any odd or unexplained health issues
  • Get treated for underlying causes such as diabetes and hypertension 
  • Take any prescribed drugs exactly as directed, and consult your doctor before using any over-the-counter medications
  • Avoid indiscriminate use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Monitor your glomerular filtration rate to keep in check with your kidneys' condition
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices, such as 
    • Stop smoking.
    • Increase physical activity and regular exercise.
    • Eat healthily and get help from a dietitian to modify your eating habits.
    • Reduce stress
    • Maintain proper and adequate sleep
    • Hydration
Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Neild GH. "Life expectancy with chronic kidney disease: an educational review." Pediatr Nephrol. 32.2 Feb. 2017: 243-248. doi: 10.1007/s00467-016-3383-8. Epub 2016 Apr 26. PMID: 27115888; PMCID: PMC5203814. <>.

"Stages of Kidney Disease." American Kidney Fund. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Chronic Kidney Disease Basics." Feb. 28, 2022. <>.