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End Stage Renal Disease


A diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) essentially states that one's kidneys are not filtering the blood at a level that will allow sustained life, and that without artificial support, the patient will not live.  Measured in terms of percentages, the patient's filtration rate is calibrated along with other factors over time to determine the functioning level of his kidneys.  If the kidneys are functioning at 20% or less, dialysis is usually recommended.  

Unlike Stages 1 and 2, patients in Stages 3, 4, and 5 do exhibit symptoms of kidney failure.  Symptoms in Stage 3 may include fatigue, fluid retention, swelling, and shortness of breath.  Urination changes (color, amount), and kidney pain (felt in the back on the sides)may also be evident.  Sleep problems may appear as well, due to muscle cramps or restless legs.

Stage 4 of kidney disease is characterized by symptoms found in Stage 3, with the addition of nausea and/or vomiting, a metallic taste in one's mouth, bad breath due to a urea build up on the blood, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, and nerve problems, such as numbness or tingling in toes or fingers.

Stage 5 of ESRD presents several of the aforementioned symptoms, plus possible headaches, itching, severely less urine output, swelling around the eyes and ankles, and changes in skin color.   If these symptoms are present, the patient should see a nephrologist immediately.


The aforementioned ESRDS Report also states that reductions in caloric intake,salt, tobacco and alcohol, along with a more active lifestyle can have tremendously positive effects, even among those already afflicted with the disease.

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