Kidney Failure


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Know the basics

What is kidney failure?

In our body, kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and excess water from your blood in the form of urine. Kidney failure also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the last stage of chronic kidney disease, which means your kidney function is not well enough to meet the needs of daily life.

If you have ESRD, your kidneys are functioning below 10 percent of their normal function. It means 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.

You may have complications like high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage. Also, kidney disease increases your risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. These problems may happen slowly over a long period of time.

How common is kidney failure?

Kidney failure is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of kidney failure?

The common symptoms of kidney failure are:

  • An inability to urinate;
  • Too much urine (pee) or not enough urine;
  • Fatigue;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • A loss of appetite;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Dry skin and itching;
  • Changes in skin color;
  • Muscle cramps;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Not feeling hungry;
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles;
  • Trouble catching your breath;
  • Trouble sleeping;
  • Breath odor
  • Easy bruising, nosebleeds, or blood in the stool;
  • Excessive thirst.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have a kidney disease or diabetes, hypertension along with any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes kidney failure?

Kidney failure is a result of other health problems that have done permanent damage to your kidneys, little by little, over time. Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD.

When your kidneys are damaged, they may not work as well as they should. If the damage to your kidneys continues to get worse and your kidneys are less and less able to do their job, you have chronic kidney disease. Kidney failure is the last (most severe) stage of chronic kidney disease. This is why kidney failure is also called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD for short.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for kidney failure?

There are many risk factors for kidney failure, such as:

  • Diabetes;
  • Hypertension;
  • Genetic disease, such as Polycystic kidney disease;
  • Alport syndrome;
  • Interstitial nephritis;
  • Pyelonephritis;
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and IgA nephropathy.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is kidney failure diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose ESRD through a physical examination and tests to check your kidney function. Kidney function tests your doctor may use include the following:

  • A urinalysis is used to check for protein and blood in your urine. These are signs that your kidney isn’t processing waste properly.
  • A serum creatinine test is used to check whether creatinine, a waste product your kidney filters out of your body, is building up in your blood.
  • Blood urea nitrogen is used to check how much nitrogen is in your blood.
  • The estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) estimates how well your kidneys are filtering waste.

How is kidney failure treated?

There is no cure for ESRD, the two treatments for ESRD are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dialysis. You have two options when you undergo dialysis: hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. During hemodialysis, your blood passes through a tube into an artificial kidney or filter.  It then filters out the waste using a solution and places the clean blood back into your body. This treatment method is usually used three times per week. It takes three to four hours each time. During peritoneal dialysis, a special solution passes into your belly through a catheter tube. The solution remains in your abdomen for the period of time and then is removed. This method can be done at home, at work, or while traveling.

Kidney transplant surgery involves removing your diseased kidneys and replacing them with a donated healthy kidney.

Other treatment depends on your symptoms, but may include:

  • Extra calcium and vitamin D due to the degradable function, please always talk to your doctor before taking supplements.
  • Medicines called phosphate binders, to help prevent phosphorous levels from becoming too high.
  • Treatment for anemia, such as extra iron in the diet, iron pills or shots, shots of a medicine called erythropoietin, and blood transfusions.
  • Medicines to control your blood pressure.

The special diet is super important to have a good result. The diet may include:

  • Eating foods low in protein;
  • Getting enough calories if you are losing weight;
  • Limiting fluids;
  • Limiting salt, potassium, phosphorous, and other electrolytes.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage kidney failure?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with kidney failure:

  • Keep your blood glucose levels and your blood pressure under control;
  • Having a special diet;
  • Doing exercises;
  • Increased caloric intake, decreased protein consumptions;
  • Maintain an ideal weight;
  • Limit the alcohol consumption and do not smoke or use tobacco;
  • Take vaccinations, including Hepatitis A vaccine, Hepatitis B vaccine, Flu vaccine, Pneumonia vaccine (PPV).

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: October 2, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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