How Long Can a Person Live With Stage 1 Kidney Disease?

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber S, MD
Medically Reviewed on 6/3/2022

What is kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease means your kidneys aren't working as well as they should. It's possible to live for many years with kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease means your kidneys aren't working as well as they should. It's possible to live for many years with kidney disease.

If you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, you may be concerned about your life expectancy. Such a disease is a lifelong condition, and you will need to manage it carefully. It does not automatically lead to death, though. If your chronic kidney disease is diagnosed in the earliest stages, you can prevent it from getting any worse. 

Many people live for decades with chronic kidney disease. 

Chronic kidney disease means your kidneys aren’t working as well as they should. The kidneys are two fist-sized organs in your abdomen. Your blood flows through the kidneys, and they filter out waste and extra fluid from your blood. The waste then leaves your body as urine.

If you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys are less effective at filtering blood. Over time, this condition can get worse. Waste materials may build up in your bloodstream, causing you to feel ill. You may have fluid rendition and swelling due to excess fluid in your body. Excess fluid can also cause circulatory problems.

What causes kidney disease? 

Chronic kidney disease is relatively common. More than 37 million people in America have it, and millions of others are at risk of developing the condition. Aging can increase your risk of kidney problems, as can certain underlying health conditions, including:

You may have a higher risk of kidney disease if other people in your family have been diagnosed with it.

What is the first stage of kidney failure?

The progression of chronic kidney disease is divided into stages. The stage you are in depends on how much damage your kidneys have suffered and how well they are working. The first stage can be so mild that it doesn't affect how your kidneys function at all. It can get worse if left untreated, however.

Your doctor can determine your stage of disease by conducting blood and urine tests. The stages include: 

Stage 1

Normal kidney function

Mild damage

Stage 2

Moderately affected kidney function

Mild damage 

Stage 3a

Reduced kidney function

Mild-to-moderate damage

Stage 3b

Distinctly reduced kidney function

Moderate-to-severe damage

Stage 4

Poor kidney function

Severe damage

Stage 5

Kidney failure

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

The earliest stage of kidney disease might not cause any symptoms. Your doctor would only notice a problem when they see evidence of protein in your urine. Any amount of urinary protein is a sign of kidney damage, but your kidneys may still be working normally.

As the condition progresses, you might experience additional symptoms, including:

Additionally, reduced kidney function can put you at risk for other health conditions and their associated symptoms, including:

How long can you live with kidney disease?

It’s possible to live for many years with kidney disease. If your doctor diagnoses the condition in the earliest stages, you can prevent further damage with medication and lifestyle changes. Your kidneys will never repair themselves, but appropriate care will prevent the condition from swiftly progressing.

How do you treat kidney disease?

If you have early-stage kidney disease, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan based on your overall health. There is no medication to treat damaged kidneys specifically, but treating issues such as high blood pressure or cholesterol can prevent more kidney damage. Your doctor will prescribe medicines to address those conditions.

If you have diabetes, you should make sure it is well controlled. Your doctor can run tests to see if your current treatment plan is working. You may need to make adjustments to your medication and diet.

Diet can affect kidney function. Your doctor may suggest you go on a kidney-friendly diet. This will mean avoiding foods that contain high levels of minerals, such as potassium or sodium. If your kidneys can’t effectively remove excess minerals from your body, they can build up in your bloodstream and make you sick. If you need help planning a kidney-friendly diet, a nutritionist can help.

Staying active is also helpful for preventing additional kidney damage. Many experts recommend 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Limiting alcohol and drug consumption will also help prevent more damage to your kidneys.


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Treatment for kidney failure

If your kidney disease progresses and your kidneys stop working, you will need more intensive treatment. Many people with kidney failure require a treatment called dialysis or a kidney transplant


With hemodialysis, a machine filters out the waste materials that your kidneys used to remove from your bloodstream. You will have IV lines attached to your body, and blood will flow into a dialyzer. The treated blood returns through the other line. Hemodialysis takes about 4 hours, and you may need to undergo the treatment several times per week.

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly to filter your blood. Your doctor places a catheter in your abdomen. You then use it to empty a bag of fluid into your belly. The fluid absorbs waste and excess fluids from your body. When the process finishes, you empty the bag. You may need to repeat the process several timers per day.

Kidney transplant

Some people are eligible for a kidney transplant. This is an operation where doctors place a new kidney into your body. The new kidney comes from an organ donor. You (and your donor) can live with one kidney. After the transplant, you will need to take anti-rejection medication to make sure your body accepts the new organ.

If you have kidney disease, talk to your doctor about your treatment plan. They can help you decide what treatment plan will work best for you. 

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Medically Reviewed on 6/3/2022

American Kidney Fund: "Kidney-friendly eating plan."

American Kidney Fund: "Stages of kidney disease."

National Health Service: "Overview - Chronic kidney disease." "Symptoms - Chronic kidney disease." "Treatment - Chronic kidney disease."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: "Hemodialysis." "Peritoneal dialysis."

National Kidney Foundation: "Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Symptoms and Causes."