Chronic kidney disease, also called CKD, is a type of long-term damage to the kidneys. It’s characterized by permanent damage that progresses on a scale of five stages.
Stage 1 means you have the least amount of kidney damage, while stage 5 (end stage) means you’ve entered kidney failure. A diagnosis of stage 2 CKD means you have minor damage.
The goal of diagnosis and treatment for CKD is to stop the progression of further kidney damage. While you can’t reverse the damage at any stage, having stage 2 CKD means you still have an opportunity to stop it from getting worse.
Read more about the characteristics of this stage of kidney disease, as well as the steps you can take now to help prevent your condition from going beyond stage 2.
To diagnose kidney disease, a doctor will take a blood test called an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). This measures the amount of creatine, an amino acid, in your blood, which can tell whether your kidneys are filtering wastes.
An abnormally high creatinine level means your kidneys aren’t functioning at an optimal level.
EGFR readings that are 90 or higher occur in stage 1 CKD, where there’s extremely mild kidney damage. Kidney failure is seen in readings of 15 or below. With stage 2, your eGFR reading will fall between 60 and 89.
No matter what stage your kidney disease is classified as, the goal is to improve overall kidney function and prevent further damage.
Regular eGFR screenings can be an indicator of whether your treatment plan is working. If you progress to stage 3, your eGFR readings would measure between 30 and 59.
EGFR readings at stage 2 are still considered within a “normal” kidney function range, so it can be difficult to diagnose this form of chronic kidney disease.
If you have elevated eGFR levels, you may also have high creatinine levels in your urine if you have kidney damage.
Stage 2 CKD is largely asymptomatic, with most noticeable symptoms not appearing until your condition has progressed to stage 3.
Possible symptoms include:
- darker urine that may range in color between yellow, red, and orange
- increased or decreased urination
- excessive fatigue
- high blood pressure
- fluid retention (edema)
- pain in the lower back
- muscle cramps at night
- dry or itchy skin
Kidney disease itself is caused by factors that decrease kidney function, resulting in damage to the kidneys. When these important organs don’t work properly, they can’t remove wastes from the blood and produce the right urinary output.
CKD isn’t typically diagnosed at stage 1 because there’s so little damage that not enough symptoms occur to detect it. Stage 1 can transition to stage 2 when there’s a decrease in function or possible physical damage.
The most common causes of kidney disease include:
- high blood pressure
- repeated urinary infection
- history of kidney stones
- tumors or cysts in the kidneys and surrounding area
The longer the above conditions are left untreated, the more damage your kidneys could sustain.
Since mild kidney disease doesn’t have as many noticeable symptoms as advanced stages, you may not realize you have stage 2 CKD until your annual physical.
The important message here is that adults should have an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor. In addition to your regular checkups, you should also see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.
A doctor will also likely monitor your kidney health carefully if you have any risk factors or a family history of kidney disease.
In addition to blood and urine tests, a doctor may perform imaging tests, such as a renal ultrasound. These tests will help provide a better look at your kidneys to assess the extent of any damage.
Once kidney damage occurs, you can’t reverse it. However, you can prevent further progression. This involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medications to help treat the underlying causes of stage 2 CKD.
Stage 2 kidney disease diet
While there’s no single diet available that can “cure” stage 2 CKD, focusing on the right foods and avoiding others may help increase kidney function.
Some of the worst foods for your kidneys include:
- processed, boxed, and fast foods
- foods containing a high amount of sodium
- saturated fats
- deli meats
A doctor may also recommend that you cut down on both animal- and plant-based sources of protein if you’re eating an excessive amount. Too much protein is hard on the kidneys.
At stage 2 CKD, you may not need to follow the some of the restrictions recommended for more advanced kidney disease, such as the avoidance of potassium.
Instead, your focus should be on maintaining a diet of fresh, whole foods from the following sources:
- whole grains
- beans and legumes
- lean poultry
- vegetables and fruits
- plant-based oils
The following home remedies can complement a healthy diet for stage 2 CKD management:
- taking iron supplements to treat anemia and improve fatigue
- drinking lots of water
- eating smaller meals throughout the day
- practicing stress management
- getting daily exercise
The goal of medications for stage 2 CKD is to treat the underlying conditions that could be contributing to kidney damage.
If you have diabetes, you will need to monitor your glucose carefully.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) or angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may treat high blood pressure that’s causing CKD.
Kerendia (finerenone) is a prescription medicine that can reduce the risk of sustained GFR decline, end-stage kidney disease, cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and hospitalization for heart failure in adults with CKD associated with type 2 diabetes.
Preventing further kidney disease progression can feel like a daunting task. It’s important to know that the small choices you make on a daily basis can truly impact the bigger picture of your overall kidney health. You can start by:
- quitting smoking (which is often difficult, but a doctor can create a cessation plan that’s right for you)
- cutting out alcohol (a doctor can help with this too)
- practicing stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation
- exercising at least 30 minutes every day
- staying hydrated
Occasionally, kidney disease may be found to be caused by some temporary problem, such as a side effect of a medicine or a blockage. When the cause is identified, it’s possible that kidney function can improve with treatment.
There’s no cure for kidney disease that has resulted in permanent damage, including mild cases diagnosed as stage 2. However, you can take action now to avoid further progression. It’s possible to have stage 2 CKD and prevent it from progressing to stage 3.
People at stage 2 kidney disease are still considered to have overall healthy kidney function. Thus the prognosis is much better compared to more advanced stages of CKD.
The goal then is to prevent further progression. As CKD gets worse, it can also cause potentially life threatening complications, such as heart disease.
Stage 2 CKD is considered a mild form of kidney disease, and you may not notice any symptoms at all. Yet this can also make this stage difficult to diagnose and treat.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to make sure you undergo regular blood and urine tests if you have any underlying conditions or a family history that increases your risk of CKD.
Once you are diagnosed with CKD, stopping the further progression of kidney damage is dependent on lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor about how you can get started with dieting and exercising for your condition.