What is end stage renal disease? And life expectancy of ESRD

What is end stage renal disease?

What is end stage renal disease (ESRD)? How long can you live with kidney failure? treatments and symptoms of renal failure? What might be the causes? Does it lead to death? These are few questions that need to be answered when we talk about the end-stage renal disease.

What is end stage renal disease?

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is the last stage of kidney diseases. It is commonly called kidney failure. It refers to the complete or partial failure of the kidney to work properly.

When there is a complete failure of a kidney, it means you can now survive with dialysis or kidney transplant only. End-stage kidney failure is the fifth stage of the chronic kidney disease. It is measured by measuring glomerular filtration rate. (GFR)

Kidney has a function in urine formation. It would no longer function to meet your daily needs. Kidney failure is a progressive disease. The length of the stage depends upon how is it being treated? And also it is linked to your diet.

Further Reading:

What is end stage renal disease commonly called? Alternative names

  • Kidney/ renal failure
  • ESRD
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • End stage kidney failure

What causes end-stage kidney disease?

Many kidney diseases attack the functional unit of the kidney known as nephron. In each kidney, the number of nephrons is approximately 1 million. One-third of these should be functional for the proper functioning of the kidney. When the nephrons are less, the blood filtration is poor. Eventually, it leads to End-stage kidney disease (ESRD).

most common causes of ESRD

The most common causes of kidney failure are:

  • Diabetes: it is a condition of high blood sugar level. If you have more sugar in the blood, it becomes difficult for nephron to filter the blood. As a result, it damages the nephrons. Learn about diabetes, causes, symptoms, and treatments.
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure: High blood pressure leads to damages in small blood vessels in the kidney. After damages, the kidney blood vessels cannot perform their blood filtering duties. Learn more about hypertension, causes, symptoms, and treatments
  • Other causes of end-stage kidney diseases:
  1. Blockage of urinary tract for a longer time by a kidney stone or some type of cancers.
  2. Congenital abnormalities
  3. vesicoureteral reflux, the flow of urine into the kidney.
  4. Glomerulonephritis, inflammation of the kidney.
  5. Polycystic kidney disease.
  • Sudden kidney failure or acute kidney failure:

    Sometimes kidney stops working within two days that is considered sudden failure. It is known as an acute renal failure. The common causes this failure are:

  1. Illegal use of drugs
  2. Heart attacks
  3. Urinary tract problems
  4. When blood flowing towards the kidney is not sufficient.

What is end stage renal disease symptoms during disease up to death?

ESRD gets worse gradually. It does not cause any signs and symptoms, till it damages the kidney badly. In the last stages, the symptoms may develop. You’ll notice the following symptoms when your kidney is beginning to fail.

  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • One does not feel appetite
  • Swelling in feet and ankles
  • Muscle cramp
  • Trouble in breathing
  • Difficulty in sleeping

While in acute or sudden kidney failure symptoms are:

  • Belly pain
  • Nosebleed
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Noticing these symptoms, you might be in a serious kidney problem. So you should contact your doctor right away.

Life expectancy in End-stage renal disease:

Life expectancy or how long you live with ESRD depends on the stage of disease and the treatment way. The studies show as:

“Although a small cohort study from the UK demonstrated no survival benefit to dialysis, larger studies have shown improved survival with dialysis. In one study, participants managed without dialysis (60% of sample) had a 1-year and 2-year survival [measured from first reaching stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD)] of 68 and 47%, respectively. It is worse than those patients who chose dialysis (84 and 76%, respectively)”

A kidney transplant may also succeed.

“Kidney transplants are also likely to succeed. Failure rates of transplanted kidneys are low, ranging from 3 to 21 percent in the first five years. A transplant allows you to resume normal kidney function. If you follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet and lifestyle changes, a kidney transplant can help you recover from ESRD for many years.”

Who is at risk of end-stage kidney disease?

The people who are at more risk of developing the kidney failure are:

  • Patient of diabetes
  • People who have high blood pressure/hypertension more often.
  • Other kidney diseases like kidney stone etc.

most common risk factors of ESRD

Other less common diseases can also lead to chronic kidney failure in some people.

  • Alport syndrome
  • Interstitial nephritis
  • Pyelonephritis
  • Lupus and other autoimmune diseases
  • Polycystic kidney failure

How is end-stage renal disease diagnosed?

A doctor diagnoses the end stage renal failure by physical examination and some tests. These are here:

  • Urinalysis: this test tells the amount of protein and blood in urine.
  • Serum creatinine test: As the name of test suggests that it is used to find whether the creatinine is building up in the blood or not. Creatinine is a waste substances that should be removed from the body via urine.
  • Blood urea nitrogen test: This helps your doctor to check the amount of nitrogen in the blood.
  • Estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR): It is a test to check how much well your kidney is filtering the waste out of the body.

What are the complications of end-stage kidney disease?

Here is the list of the most common and serious complications linked to end-stage kidney disease.

  • Anemia
  • Heart disease especially heart attack
  • Liver disease
  • Nerve damages
  • Skin infections that are dry skin and itching
  • Weak bones, joint and muscles pain

Some complication is less common, for example:

  • Fluid filled up around lungs
  • Stomach and intestinal bleeding
  • Brain dysfunction and dementia
  • Seizures
  • Fractures and joint disorders

What can prevent end-stage kidney disease?

In some cases, the kidney disease is not preventable. However, the two major factors that lead to this disease should be kept in check. These are High sugar level in blood and blood pressure.

You should call a doctor if you develop any symptoms of end stage kidney failure. Early treatment works very well and prevents the disease from spreading.

Other preventions:

What Lifestyle and diet changes do you need to do?

It is an important question. What changes you need to do when you have chronic kidney disease? Diet and lifestyle changes are important for kidney patients. It’s important to remain active. This will lower the blood sugar level and main blood pressure.

You should stop smoking. Limiting salt intake is also very important. Other important changes are given below:

  • Drop sugar intake
  • Get well sleep at night.
  • Avoid more alcohol consumption.
  • Diet should be rich in vitamins and mineral.

How is kidney failure treated? Kidney failure treatments:

Two methods are usually used to treat the kidney patients. Depending on the conditions of the kidney, the doctors suggest one of the below methods;


It is a process of filtering toxins from the blood through artificial methods when the kidney is unable to perform this function. It is also called renal dialysis. This process works on the principles of the kidney. Although it is not effective and efficient as a natural process of the kidney but it saves a life.

Renal dialysis is of two types:


Haemodialysis involves the use of a machine called dialyzer. It removes waste and water by circulating blood outside the body in the dialyzer. Dialyzer consists of tubes of a semi-permeable membrane. In this process, a catheter is inserted into the blood vessel. It rotates the blood in an external machine and removes the waste. The catheter is usually inserted in the arm.

hemodialysis in kidney failure treatment

The cleaned blood then returns the body through a second catheter. The hemodialysis machine consists of a pump and a container in which a network of tubes made of a special membrane called dialyzer is situated.

Peritoneal dialysis:

It is the use of a peritoneal membrane which encloses the abdominal cavity. In this process, two catheters are surgically inserted into the abdominal cavity that serves as the portals through which dialysate (the dialysis fluid is called dialysate), enters and leaves the cavity.

peritoneal dialysis in treatment of ESRD

As the molecules of the dialysate are too large to pass through peritoneum so the solution does not go anywhere. It remains in the peritoneal cavity. While blood is circulating and passes through the blood vessels, the dialysate attracts the certain molecules to cross the membranes into the dialysate. A second catheter serves in carrying the dialysate out of the abdominal cavity.

Problems related to kidney failure treatment through dialysis:

Although dialysis can sustain life but most people experience overall health decline with long-term dialysis. It is because of many problems in this procedure:

  • The life span of using catheter is limited due to infection or thrombosis.
  • Plasma urea and creatine are lowered by the treatment through hemodialysis, and it does not return to normal.
  • Dialysis distributes the electrolytic imbalance. This is because the machines do not perform regulatory control of body fluid and acid-base balance.
  • Also, kidney produces hormones, which cannot be produced by machines. E.g. erythropoietin, renin, etc.

Advantages of kidney failure treatment with peritoneal dialysis over hemodialysis:

  • The primary advantage of peritoneal dialysis is the mobility. One is able to move and can participate in regular activities including work.
  • Peritoneal dialysis can be performed at home.
  • The success chances vary among individuals because of the variable permeability of peritoneum membrane.

Kidney transplant:

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure of placing a full functional into a person with chronic kidney failure.

kidney transplant

The kidney is taken from a deceased donor or from a related or unrelated person. Blood group compatibility is essential. When a donor’s kidney becomes available, it is then transplanted into the patient body. The old kidney is left in place as they do not harm. Usually, they are removed only when they cause infection or hypertension.

The new kidney is placed in the lower abdomen. As soon as it is connected to blood vessels, it starts working and filters waste.

Problem-related to kidney transplant:

Two major problems are associated with the kidney transplant.

  • Kidney rejection
  • Toxic effects of cyclosporine

Both these problems are treated by adding extra doses of steroids. Patients are required to take medications such cyclosporine to suppress the immune system. At any point in life, if the recipient stops the medications, the kidney rejections can occur even ten or fifteen years after the transplantation.

FAQs related to chronic kidney failure:

The following are few important and frequently asked questions.

  1. Why do people have a single kidney?
  • A person may be born with only one kidney. This condition is known as renal agenesis.
  • The kidney can be removed in operation, usually, is removed when it fails to work properly or has cancer.
  • A person may have donated a kidney for kidney transplant patient.
  1. What if I was born with only one “working” kidney?

    In general, people who have a single working, kidney lives a healthy life. But for some people, the case may be opposite.

  2. Does a transplant kidney increase in size?

    Yes, testing tells us that kidney increases in size.

  3. How often should someone with one kidney see a doctor?

    At least once a year.

  4. Can a person with one kidney participate in sports and games?

    Yes, physical exercise is important for everyone. But people having one kidney should be careful from injuries.

  5. Will I need to follow a special diet when I have a single kidney?

    No. you don’t have to. But if you have had a kidney transplant then you should have a special diet.

  6. Can kidney disease get better?

    The chronic kidney disease is usually permanent. It gets worse over time. With the treatment, we aim to prevent kidney from further damages.

    Some other questions

  7. How to improve kidney function naturally?
  • Eat healthily
  • Drink healthily
  • Controlling your weight
  • Exercising daily
  • You should learn how kidney problems develop.

    For more details steps or help and assistance to improve kidney functions, click here.

  1. Can you die from a kidney disease?

    If kidney gets fail and does not work properly, the filtering of blood should be done artificially. Otherwise, you are likely to die. However, if you are given dialysis or kidney transplant on time, you can be saved.

  2. What is end stage renal disease symptoms before death?

    The same as given in the signs and symptoms list.

  3. How long can you live with end stage kidney failure? Or end stage renal failure life expectancy?

    Life expectancy depends upon the condition of kidney and type of the treatment type.

  4. What is the life expectancy of someone on dialysis?

    The average life expectancy on dialysis is 5-10 years.

  5. what are the importance of kidney donation?

kidney donation is usually safe operation. Many donors will not feel the loss of their second kidney. So, giving kidney does not cause any harm to overall health. Just think for a while people have no problem having only one kidney. So we have to ask why he has given two kidneys. Perhaps it is so you would have an extra one to donate and save a life.

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