Stage 5 Kidney Failure: What are its Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention?

Mar 24, 2023 by Adhip

Stage 5 kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the most severe stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD). At this stage, the kidneys are functioning at less than 10% of their normal capacity and cannot perform their essential function of filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood. This can result in a buildup of harmful substances in the body and lead to a range of serious health complications.


As the kidneys fail, a range of symptoms may develop, including:

  1. Fatigue: Feeling tired or weak all the time is one of the most common symptoms of stage 5 kidney failure. This is because the kidneys are not able to produce enough erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells.
  2. Loss of appetite: Many people with stage 5 kidney failure lose their appetite and experience weight loss. This is because the buildup of waste products in the body can cause nausea, vomiting, and a metallic taste in the mouth.
  3. Swelling: Fluid can build up in the body, causing swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. This is because the kidneys are not able to remove excess fluid from the body.
  4. Itching: The buildup of waste products in the body can cause severe itching, especially on the arms and legs.
  5. Muscle cramps: Low levels of calcium and potassium in the blood can cause muscle cramps, especially in the legs.
  6. Shortness of breath: Fluid buildup in the lungs can cause shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

Complications of Stage 5 Kidney Failure 

Stage 5 kidney failure can lead to a range of serious complications, including:

  1. Cardiovascular disease: People with stage 5 kidney failure are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  2. Anemia: The kidneys produce erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. When the kidneys fail, the body cannot produce enough red blood cells, leading to anemia.
  3. Bone disease: The kidneys play a critical role in regulating calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. When the kidneys fail, bone disease can develop, leading to bone pain, fractures, and deformities.
  4. Nerve damage: High levels of waste products in the blood can cause nerve damage, leading to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hands and feet.

Treatment for Stage 5 Kidney Failure

There are several treatment options available for people with stage 5 kidney failure, including:

  1. Dialysis: Dialysis is a process that uses a machine to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis, which involves using an artificial kidney machine, and peritoneal dialysis, which involves using the lining of the abdomen to filter the blood.
  2. Kidney transplant: A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure in which a healthy kidney from a donor is transplanted into the body of someone with kidney failure. A successful kidney transplant can improve quality of life and increase life expectancy.
  3. Conservative management: For some people with stage 5 kidney failure, conservative management may be an appropriate option. This involves managing symptoms and controlling complications through lifestyle changes, medications, and regular monitoring.

Preventing Stage 5 Kidney Failure 

While not all cases of kidney failure can be prevented, there are several steps that people can take to reduce their risk, including:

  1. Manage underlying conditions: Many conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can increase the risk of kidney failure. Managing these conditions through lifestyle changes and medications can help reduce the risk.
  2. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help the kidney function.


Stage 5 kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease, is a severe condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Without proper management, it can lead to a range of serious health complications and a decreased quality of life. However, with appropriate treatment options, such as dialysis and kidney transplantation, people with kidney failure can lead fulfilling lives. Prevention is also key in reducing the risk of kidney failure, and managing underlying conditions and staying hydrated can help protect kidney function. Overall, early detection and intervention are crucial in managing stage 5 kidney failure and improving outcomes for those affected.

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