According to the American Kidney Fund (AKF), approximately 500,000 veterans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), and each year for the past five years, that number has increased 6%. Additionally, the AKF reports that, compared to other Americans, veterans experience a higher rate of this disease. Over 40,000 men and women with VA healthcare have kidney failure and our Omaha disability lawyers can help..
The Five Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease
CKD is a steady loss of kidney function. Your kidneys act as a filter, and the waste and surplus fluids in your blood are eliminated in your urine. If your CKD reaches an advanced stage, the build-up of these wastes can reach a dangerous level and cause kidney damage. However, you may have very few symptoms or limited indication that you have CKD in the early stages, and you may not be aware that you have this condition until your kidney function is critically damaged.
According to our Omaha disability lawyers, doctors measure your kidney function and how successfully your kidneys filter the waste from your blood using the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). This is a number based on the waste product in your blood called creatinine. The eGFR number is used to identify the following five stages of kidney disease:
- Stage 1: eGFR 90 or greater. Typically, if your eGFR is 90 or greater, your kidneys are healthy and working as they should; however, you have some signs of kidney damage. This could be some type of physical damage to your kidneys or perhaps protein in your urine. Stage 1 shows that you have mild kidney damage.
- Stage 2: eGFR between 60 and 89. This stage is nearly identical to Stage 1. Generally, this eGFR shows that your kidneys are in good condition and working well. However, even though your eGFR is considered normal, there are signs of kidney damage. Again, there could be protein in your urine, or you may have had some physical damage to your kidneys.
- Stage 3: eGFR between 30 and 59. This number indicates that you have some damage to your kidneys, and they’re not working the way they should. You may be at this stage and still not have any symptoms. But some people experience back pain, the need to urinate more or less often than they normally do, and swelling in their feet and hands. As waste builds up in your body, you may experience complications such as hypertension, bone disease, and/or anemia.
- Stage 4: eGFR between 15 and 29. At this stage, your kidneys are not working correctly and are moderately or severely damaged. Because this is the last stage before kidney failure, it’s critical to take this stage seriously. You will likely have regular appointments with a nephrologist, meet with a dietician, and possibly take blood pressure medications. You may need to discuss the possibility of kidney failure with your doctor.
- Stage 5: eGFR less than 15. At this stage, you are close to kidney failure, or your kidneys have failed completely. When your kidneys fail, the waste that has built up in your blood will make you extremely sick. You may have muscle cramps, feel like vomiting, lose your appetite, and/or have trouble breathing. If your kidneys fail, you’ll need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Why Veterans Suffer a Higher Rate of Kidney Disease
Veterans are at a higher risk of kidney disease for a variety of reasons. The two leading causes of kidney disease are hypertension and diabetes, and there is a high rate of both of these conditions in veterans. Additionally, veterans suffer from CKD because of their older age, comorbidities (having two or more diseases or conditions in a patient at the same time), and previous exposures to hazardous chemicals and environments. Under a law signed in 2012, veterans who were on active duty at Camp Lejeune for more than 30 days between 1953 and 1987 may be eligible for medical care from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for renal (kidney) toxicity.
Contact Cuddigan Law
If you are seeking VA disability for kidney disease or your benefits claim has been denied, contact our Omaha disability lawyers at Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help document your kidney disease with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations.
Our Omaha disability lawyers know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your CKD is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.