Common Questions about ESRD

Common Questions About Esrd

End stage renal disease is effectively the last stage of chronic kidney disease. It is renal failure.

Kidney disease is marked in five stages. In the earlier two stages, kidney disease is typically only diagnosed via regular checkups and blood work. In the later stages, kidney disease becomes more apparent through symptoms and discomfort. The final stage of kidney disease, or end stage renal disease, is when the kidneys can no longer function and perform their important jobs.

ESRD, or end stage renal disease, can be a scary thought for many people. However, understanding is often the key to getting over your fear. Knowing the facts about end stage renal disease may help you come to terms with your condition, as well as be less afraid.

What is end stage renal disease?

End stage renal disease is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. In this final stage, the kidneys have lost their function to the point that the function needs to be replaced. The only way to replace that function is to have a transplant or get dialysis.

Is there a cure for end stage renal disease?

There is no cure for end stage renal disease, as the damage sustained to the kidneys is permanent. You can prevent further damage, but there is no way to heal or cure the damage that has already occurred.

Symptoms of ESRD

Along with a low GFR value, end stage renal disease can be accompanied by many symptoms. These symptoms will vary from patient to patient, and some maybe be more or less severe depending on the person.

Common symptoms for an end stage renal disease patient can include: fatigue, appetite loss, dizziness, muscle cramps, numbness or tingling in the extremities, cognitive difficulties, skin changes, headaches, swelling, edema, and major urinary problems.

Treatments for ESRD

It is important to understand that there is no cure for end stage renal disease. In fact, there is no cure for kidney disease at any level, although the progression of kidney disease can be slowed or halted with the right treatment and dietary changes. Once damage has occurred, however, it can not be repaired. Loss of function can unfortunately not be regained.

There are typically two choices for patients who have reached end stage renal disease. These options are transplant and dialysis.

•    Transplant: A kidney transplant can replace a patient's failing kidneys with new organs that are able to function. Transplant patients are often able to go on about their lives as normal and feel great now that they have functioning kidneys.

•    Dialysis: Dialysis is a method of recreating the function of the kidneys with a machine that filters your blood. There are multiple types of dialysis, but the most common is hemodialysis. During this procedure, blood is removed from the body through a port, filtered through the machine, and then returned to the body through the same port. This is the most common treatment for ESRD.

ESRD is a serious and life threatening condition, but it is not a death sentence. Through transplant or dialysis, the function of the kidneys can be replaced and patients can live a full and comfortable life. Having a good diet is important for your health with ESRD, click here for an example.

Can I prevent end stage renal disease?

If you have not yet reached end stage renal disease, you do have the potential to stop or at least slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. This could help you put off or completely avoid end stage renal disease and dialysis.

The best way to prevent end stage renal disease is through your diet. Diet has the biggest impact on your kidneys, because everything you eat or drink is processed through your kidneys. Making effective changes to your diet can help your kidneys retain the function they still have.

How is end stage renal disease treated?

End stage renal disease is treated through dialysis or through kidney transplant. Some patients start dialysis treatments while they are waiting for a kidney transplant.

What can I expect from dialysis?

There are two kinds of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis is the most common dialysis treatment. It requires two to three visits to a dialysis center weekly, and each treatment takes about three hours. For this treatment, the patient will have two lines hooked up, one to remove blood and one to return. The blood is removed and processed through a machine that filters it, and is then returned to your body.

Peritoneal dialysis is done one of two ways. A tube is surgically inserted into the abdomen and remains there so the patient can administer his or her own treatment daily. Fluid is put into the abdomen and left there for a period of time while the patient goes about their business as normal. The fluid soaks up the waste and excess material that the kidneys are unable to filter, and is then removed from the abdomen. Peritoneal dialysis can also be completed via a machine, which is usually done overnight.

End stage renal disease is not the end of your life. Although you will need to make some changes, you can still live your life fairly normally. If you have more questions or are feeling worried about your future with end stage renal disease, have a discussion with your doctor. Remember that knowledge is often the key to overcoming your fears, and that understanding is the first step to caring for yourself properly. For more information about ESRD, click here.


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