End-Stage Kidney Disease
The final, permanent stage of chronic kidney disease is known as end-stage kidney disease.
ESKD is just what it sounds like: when the gradual loss of kidney function that occurs with chronic kidney disease has progressed to the point where your kidneys alone can no longer keep you alive. With ESKD, you will require regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.
However, because chronic kidney disease tends to progress slowly, it can take a decade or two to develop into ESKD – depending on how well you manage the disease in the interim.
Stages of Kidney Disease
End-stage kidney disease (ESKD), also known as an end-stage renal disease (ESRD), almost always occurs after years of dealing with chronic kidney disease.
Kidney disease progresses as follows:
The first signs of kidney disease appear, including high protein levels or blood in the urine, swelling of the hands or feet, and/or kidney damage visible in imaging tests.
Kidney function is impaired, but only slightly.
Mild to moderate kidney damage noticeably impairs kidney function.
Moderate to severe kidney damage more noticeably impairs kidney function.
Kidney function is extremely impaired, and close to not working at all.
End-stage kidney disease (kidneys are not sufficient – dialysis or transplant is required).
The above stages are typically based on urine and blood test results. Key to staging kidney disease is your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), or how well the filters within your kidneys are working.
Renal Failure vs. End-Stage Kidney Disease
“Renal failure” is sometimes used to mean end-stage kidney disease. Renal failure, however, is when your kidneys, either gradually or suddenly, begin to have difficulty performing their functions. Your kidneys can begin to fail (be in renal failure) long before you arrive at end-stage kidney disease. It is more appropriate to say “established renal failure” (when the kidneys have stopped working altogether) to indicate the same thing as ESKD.
Signs & Symptoms of ESKD
When your kidneys stop working and cannot remove excess fluid and waste from the body, you may notice the following signs and symptoms, which may indicate you have entered end-stage kidney disease:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to urinate
- Confusion, disorientation
- Pain, including in the area of the kidneys or in the bones
Treating End-Stage Kidney Disease
Once the kidneys are damaged, that damage cannot be reversed. But it can be managed. Adhering to your treatment plan can help to significantly slow the progression of kidney disease. Controlling other conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, is critical to your ability to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and to help prevent end-stage kidney disease.
There are really only two choices when it comes to treating end-stage kidney disease: dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- With dialysis, you will regularly visit a dialysis center, where your blood is filtered out of waste and excess fluid by a machine since your kidneys are unable to do so. Most often, dialysis is needed three times a week, and each treatment takes several hours to complete.
- A kidney transplant is the only way to cure kidney disease. Living donors are preferable to using deceased donor kidneys. Donor matching can be problematic, but the rise of paired kidney exchanges is helping with this. See our Kidney Transplant page for more information.
Treatment for End-Stage Kidney Disease in Brockton & Taunton, MA
End-stage kidney disease is not a life sentence! For the highest quality of kidney care, including treatment of ESKD, in Brockton and Taunton Massachusetts, call Associates in Nephrology at (508) 587-0700 or request an appointment now.