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What Is End-Stage Kidney Disease?

  What Is End-Stage Kidney Disease?

  Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which your kidneys lose function over time. A diagnosis of end-stage kidney disease means that you’re in the final stage of chronic kidney disease and your kidneys are not functioning well enough to meet the needs of daily life. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and excess water from your blood in the form of urine.

  End-stage kidney disease is also referred to as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If you have ESRD, your kidneys are functioning below 10 percent of their normal function. This may mean that your kidneys are barely functioning or not functioning at all. Kidney disease is usually progressive. Chronic kidney disease typically doesn’t reach the end stage until 10 to 20 years after you’re diagnosed. ESRD may also develop slowly.



  What Causes End-Stage Kidney Disease?

  Many types of kidney diseases attack the nephrons, which are the tiny units in the kidneys that do the filtering. This results in your blood not being filtered properly and eventually leads to ESRD.

  Diabetes and high blood pressure, or hypertension, are the two most common causes of ESRD. If you have diabetes, your body can’t break down glucose, or sugar, correctly and glucose levels remain high in your blood. High levels of glucose in your blood damage your nephrons.

  If you have hypertension, the increased pressure that’s forced upon the small vessels in your kidneys leads to damage. This damage prevents your blood vessels from performing their blood-filtering duties.

  Who Is at Risk for End-Stage Kidney Disease?

  The two main groups at risk for ESRD are people with diabetes and those with hypertension. You are also more likely to develop the condition if you have relatives with the disease.

  Your risk of developing ESRD also rises when you have any type of kidney disease or condition, including:

  polycystic kidney disease

  Alport syndrome

  interstitial nephritis


  certain autoimmune conditions, such as lupus

  What Are the Symptoms of End-Stage Kidney Disease?

  You may experience a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  a decrease in how much you urinate

  an inability to urinate


  a general ill feeling


  unexplained weight loss

  a loss of appetite

  nausea and vomiting

  dry skin and itching

  changes in skin color

  bone pain

  confusion and difficulty concentrating



  Other symptoms may include:

  bruising easily

  frequent nosebleeds

  numbness in your hands and feet

  bad breath

  excessive thirst

  frequent hiccups

  absence of menstrual cycles

  sleeping problems such as obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (RLS)

  low libido or impotence

  swelling, or edema, especially in your legs and hands

  Complications of End-Stage Kidney Disease

  skin infections from itching and dry skin

  hepatitis B

  hepatitis C

  liver failure

  heart and blood vessel problems

  a fluid buildup around your lungs


  an increased risk of infections


  nerve damage

  joint, bone, and muscle pain


  stomach and intestinal bleeding

  brain dysfunction and dementia

  abnormal electrolyte levels

  blood glucose level changes


  a weakening of your bones

  joint disorders



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