End Stage Renal Disease
Stage 5 of chronic kidney disease, also known as end stage renal disease (ESRD)is when the kidneys are functioning below 10 to 15 percent of their normal capacity. This is called kidney failure. End stage renal disease develops from chronic renal disease as it progresses into an advanced state. When functioning properly, the kidneys are responsible for filtering out excess fluid and waste from the body. They excrete these wastes through urine. When a patient has progressed to end stage renal disease, the kidneys are no longer able to properly filter the excess, causing harmful build up in the body.
In most cases, the kidney failure stage happens after years of living with chronic kidney disease. Less commonly, kidney failure occurs suddenly, known as acute kidney failure. Regardless of the cause, once a patient is in kidney failure they will require kidney replacement therapy (dialysis) and/or a kidney transplant to live, or treatment to manage symptoms for the remaining time.
In the early stages of renal disease, there may be no detectable signs or symptoms. The kidneys are one of the most adaptable organs, meaning they can typically compensate for function loss at first. This means many don’t realize they are suffering from kidney disease until it has already progressed to a later stage. As the stages move towards end stage renal disease, symptoms become increasingly more severe.
Many with end stage renal disease may experience:
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Changes in urination
- Muscle cramps
- Chest pain or shortness of breath due to fluid build up
- Swelling, typically in the hands and feet, as fluid builds
- Fatigue or weakness due to changes in sleep patterns
- Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
Many of these symptoms are also commonly found in other diseases, making it difficult for some to attribute these signs to renal disease. If a patient is experiencing more than one or many of these symptoms together, they should contact their doctor immediately.
Kidney disease can be attributed to a number of causes depending on the patient’s medical history. There are also different causes that can lead to renal disease or acute renal disease.
Normal renal disease can develop due to a wide variety of factors. At the core, kidney disease typically develops due to damage to the kidneys that created impaired functioning. That impairment progresses over time until it reaches end stage renal disease or kidney failure.
Some causes of kidney damage are:
- High Blood Pressure
- IgA Nephropathy (Insert internal link to article)
- Genetic components
- Urinary tract issues
- Nephrotic Syndrome (Insert internal link to article)
If any of these factors cause permanent damage to the kidneys, it can easily lead to lower functioning, and an advance towards renal disease and failure.
Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney disease is when failure or dysfunction occurs quickly as opposed to over time. This type of failure is usually brought on by a sudden event and can greatly expedite the advancement through the stages of renal disease, or in some cases, go straight to end stage renal disease.
Some causes of acute renal failure are:
- More severe urinary tract issues
- Restricted blood flow to kidneys
- Heart attack
- Drug abuse
This main difference between kidney disease that develops over time from kidney damage and acute kidney disease is the duration of the illness. Stages progressing kidney disease will be lifelong and will advance based on severity and treatment. Acute kidney disease has the potential to actually go away. Due to its relation to a one time event, the damage done to the kidneys can heal once the event has passed. This can cause the renal disease to go away.
End stage renal disease requires serious treatment courses due to its advanced nature. The only ways to increase longevity of life with the disease, are treatment options of Dialysis or a kidney transplant. Those who are looking for a treatment course with less intensity can focus on reducing the severity of symptoms to make life with renal disease more comfortable. This will not help to increase lifespan like dialysis or transplant, but it will enable a patient to lessen the effects while they can.
Click here to learn more about how dialysis works, treatment options and resources available to patients on dialysis.
Dialysis is a specialized treatment that can help pick up some of the work the damaged kidneys can no longer provide. Dialysis helps to flush out waste and get rid of excess fluid the kidneys can’t expel on its own.
Click here to better understand the kidney transplant process and find helpful resources for both transplant patients and living donors.
The best option for a patient with end stage renal disease to achieve the most normal life possible is a kidney transplant. This process begins by finding a donor, alive or deceased, that best matches the patient’s blood and body. Then the donor or recipient undergo surgery to transplant the kidney. After the procedure is over, kidney recipients will remain in the hospital for up to a week with no complications and will be put in a medication regimen to make sure the body and immune system accept the new organ. Once the process is complete, the patient can live normally, without dialysis, as they new, healthy kidney effectively filters waste and excess fluid as its supposed to.