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End-Stage Renal Disease

End-Stage Renal Disease, Symptoms and Causes

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is the complete, or almost complete, failure of the kidneys to function. ESRD occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to function at a level needed for day-to-day life.

There are two different types of renal failure. Acute end-stage renal failure occurs abruptly and is potentially reversible. Chronic kidney failure progresses slowly over months. It usually leads to permanent, end-stage renal failure. A person may have gradual worsening of kidney function for 10 to 20 years or more before progressing to ESRD. Patients who have reached this stage need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

End-Stage Renal Disease Symptoms

The symptoms for acute and chronic renal failure may be different. The following are the most common symptoms of acute and chronic renal failure. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently:

  • General ill feeling and fatigue
  • Generalized itching (pruritus) and dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Other End-Stage Renal Disease symptoms that may develop include:

  • Abnormally dark or light skin and changes in nails
  • Bone pain
  • Brain and nervous system symptoms
    • Drowsiness and confusion
    • Problems concentrating or thinking
    • Numbness in the hands, feet, or other areas
    • Muscle twitching or cramps
  • Breath odor
  • Easy bruising, nosebleeds, or blood in the stool
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent hiccups
  • Low level of sexual interest and impotence
  • Menstrual periods stop (amenorrhea)
  • Sleep problems, such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or obstructive sleep apnea
  • Swelling of the feet and hands (edema)
  • Vomiting, especially in the morning

The symptoms of acute and chronic end-stage renal failure may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

End-Stage Renal Disease Causes

The most common causes of ESRD in the U.S. are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Diabetic kidney disease is one of the complications of diabetes. The function of healthy kidneys is to act as filters that keep the bloodstream clean. When kidneys are damaged by the high blood sugar levels of diabetes, waste and fluids build up in the blood, instead of being eliminated.

Every year, hypertension causes more than 25,000 new cases of kidney failure in the United States. Although everyone has some risk of developing kidney failure from high blood pressure, the top high-risk groups are African Americans and people with diabetes. In fact, African Americans are six times more likely than Caucasians to develop hypertension-related kidney failure. Early management of high blood pressure is especially important for African Americans with diabetes.