Stage 5 Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney failure or chronic kidney diseases refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. The primary job of your kidneys is to filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood and then excrete the wastes out of your body through urine. You may not experience many signs during the early stages of chronic kidney disease because your kidneys are still functioning to some extent. During stage 5 kidney disease, the levels of electrolytes, fluid, and wastes accumulated in your body go up to a dangerous level. Now let's get more useful information.

What Does Stage 5 Kidney Disease Mean?

The process by which your kidneys filter the blood and removes excess fluids and wastes is called glomerular filtration, and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) helps determine the stages of kidney disease. The rate is usually calculated considering your gender, age, race and serum creatinine levels.

With kidney diseases, your GFR is less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m². It is possible to divided kidney disease into 5 stages, and at stage5 or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), your GFR is under 15 and your kidneys are not functioning above 10% of their normal function. You experience a number of symptoms when you enter stage 5 kidney disease, including:


Frequent nosebleeds


Bad breath

Inability to urinate

Bruising easily

Unexplained weight loss

Numbness in the hands and feet

Bone pain

Frequent hiccups

Loss of appetite

Excessive thirst

Change in skin color

Low libido


Absence of menstrual cycles

Difficulty concentrating

Swelling in the legs and hands

Dry skin and itching

Sleeping problems such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea

What Causes Stage 5 Kidney Disease?

The tiny units responsible for doing all the filtering in the kidneys are called nephrons, which are attacked and destroyed in many types of kidney diseases. This leads to improper filtration of blood, which eventually causes ESRD. Hypertension and diabetes are usually the most common causes of ESRD because your body cannot break sugar properly when you have diabetes, which damages your nephrons. Similarly, hypertension can damage small vessels in your kidneys and affect their ability to filter wastes.

While you will experience symptoms when you develop ESRD, it usually takes quite some time for kidney disease to progress to ESRD. Many people develop end-stage disease after 10-20 years of developing kidney disease.

How to Treat Stage 5 Kidney Disease

It is never easy to find out you have kidney disease because symptoms usually appear when the disease has already progressed to an advanced stage. When it is confirmed that you have this end stage kidney disease, your doctor may recommend a number of treatment options.

1. Mind Your Diet

When dealing with stage 5 kidney diseases, you need to pay special attention to your diet and stick to a diet that is low in protein, potassium, salt and phosphorus. You should limit fluids and get enough calories if you are losing weight quickly.

2. General Medical Treatment

It is equally important to pay attention to your symptoms to determine specific treatment options. 

  • If phosphorous levels are becoming too high in your body, your doctor may give you phosphate binders. Extra vitamin D and calcium may also help.
  • If you develop anemia, your doctor will give your extra iron in iron pills or shots and recommend eating food high in iron. They will also give you certain medication to keep your blood pressure in control.
  • Drug therapy using angiotensin receptor blocker (ARBs) or angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may help prevent ESRD in people with hypertension and diabetes.

3. Dialysis

It is called artificial filtering and can help remove extra water, salt and waste products from your body. It also helps control blood pressure and keeps safe levels of vitamins and minerals in your body. Dialysis may also promote the production of red blood cells.

Your doctor will recommend dialysis in certain situations only. For instance, you may need dialysis when you have 10-15% of kidney function left. You may need dialysis even if you are scheduled to get a kidney transplant. Your doctor will consider your condition and determine what type of dialysis method works best for you:

  • They may consider going for hemodialysis, in which your blood passes through a tube into a filter or an artificial kidney;
  • They opt for peritoneal dialysis, in which a special solution goes into your body through a catheter tube and then is removed after some time. This can be done while travelling, at work or at home.

4. Kidney Transplant

With stage 5 kidney disease, kidney transplant may be the best treatment option. This surgical procedure involves removing your kidneys and replacing them with a donated organ. Humans can live with one healthy kidney, which means that your donor can also live healthily after donating one of their kidneys. Over 17,000 kidney transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2014.

Watch the following video to learn more about kidney disease, as well as what to eat and avoid when you develop a kidney disease:

The Long-Term Outlook of Stage 5 Kidney Disease

It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, especially when your kidney disease has progressed to ESRD. Although there are treatments, you will still experience some complications and your life span really depends on your own condition:

Possible Complications

Some common complications of ESRD are:

Hepatitis B


Hepatitis C

Nerve damage

Skin infections

Bone, joint, and muscle pain

Liver failure



Joint disorders



An increased risk of infections

Abnormal electrolyte levels

Brain dysfunction

Changes in blood sugar levels

A fluid buildup around your lungs

Blood vessels and heart problems

Life Expectancy

The longer you are on dialysis, the more complications you will have. So many people with stage 5 kidney disease die of dialysis complications such as heart failure. On average, a person on dialysis lives around 5 years. However, if you stop dialysis when you have end-stage renal disease, you may not survive beyond a few weeks or months. Kidney transplant is the only option here. 

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