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What Is Stage 5 CKD?

Last updated: Dec 18, 2022 Post in Nephrology in Brooklyn by Century Medical & Dental Clinic.

If you have been diagnosed with stage 5 CKD, you must seek immediate medical attention as this condition can turn life-threatening and result in further complications. Kidney failure should not be ignored, as it means the kidneys are not performing their functions of filtering waste and extra fluid out of the body. The experienced and board-certified nephrologists at the Century Medical and Dental Center evaluate your health situation and take steps to slow down the damage to your kidneys. The top nephrology doctors NY work hard to save your kidneys from complete failure and advice you regarding dialysis and transplant to help you live longer and a better quality of life.

The final stage of chronic kidney disease is referred to as stage 5 CKD. At this stage, your kidneys are about to fail, or you are already in kidney failure. It is a grave condition and should not be misinterpreted, as even a slight mistake can turn it life-threatening.

You must work closely with your nephrologist to decide the right course of action for your treatment plans, such as dialysis or a kidney transplant.

What Is Stage 5 Kidney Disease?

Also known as end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD), stage 5 chronic kidney disease is a warning sign of kidney failure. At this stage, your eGFR is at 15 ml/min or less, and you are about to be in or are already in kidney failure.

When kidneys fail, waste starts building up in the blood as the kidneys have lost their ability to function normally and filter this waste out through urine. In addition to this, many other functions the kidneys perform will not proceed normally.

The kidney functions most affected by its failure include:

  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Normal production of erythropoietin hormone that helps to make red blood cells
  • Activation of vitamin D to maintain good bone health

At this stage of kidney failure, you will feel sick and only dialysis or a kidney transplant give you a chance to live.
Stages of chronic kidney disease

Symptoms of End-Stage Renal Failure

  • End-stage renal failure is as scary as it sounds. Commonly faced symptoms of stage 5 kidney disease include:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Itchiness
  • Unable to urinate or urinating very little
  • Swelling (particularly in the ankles and around the eyes)
  • Muscle cramping
  • Trouble breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Changes in skin color
  • Increased skin pigmentation

In many cases, the signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific. This means they can also be resulting from other illnesses. As the kidneys can make up for lost function, signs and symptoms might not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.

Causes of Kidney Failure

Kidney disease occurs when a disease or illness impairs kidney function causing the damage to worsen over several months or years if it goes undetected. In some people, kidney damage can continue to progress even after the underlying condition is resolved.

The following conditions and diseases can lead to kidney disease:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys filtering units
  • Interstitial nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys tubules, and surrounding structures
  • Polycystic kidney disease or other inherited kidney diseases
  • Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and some cancers
  • Vesicoureteral reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
  • Recurring kidney infection also called pyelonephritis

Treatment Options for Stage 5 CKD

If you are not going through any treatment for kidney failure, you must see a nephrologist immediately to determine the extent of your renal failure and get started on treatment. A dialysis or organ transplant is the only treatment option at this stage.

If your kidneys have failed, you will require dialysis for the rest of your life unless you opt for a successful kidney transplant. In some cases, end-stage renal disease patients have to go for both forms of treatment to survive. Dialysis and transplant are life-extending treatments that remove unwanted toxins, waste products, and excess fluids by filtering your blood.


It is a process that cleans your blood by removing the waste that kidneys can no longer remove on their own. It also maintains healthy levels of potassium, sodium, bicarbonate, and other chemicals and controls your blood pressure. You can receive dialysis at a medical facility or home as suggested by the doctor.

There are two types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis (HD) is ongoing dialysis (3 to 5 times a week) that cleans your blood, usually in a dialysis center. The hemodialysis access is in your arm.
  • Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is ongoing dialysis (daily) that collects waste from the blood by washing the space in the abdomen (peritoneal cavity). The access for this is in your abdomen.

The nephrologist will help you learn more about each type of dialysis and which one is right for you. It is important to remember that the treatment you choose should fit in with your routine. The best treatment is one that makes sense for your lifestyle and health needs and gives you a new lease of life.

Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant means you will receive a healthy kidney from a donor. The failing kidney is taken out through surgery, and the new, healthy kidney is put in its place. You will need to take anti-rejection medicine post-transplant to prevent your body from rejecting the new organ.

Most transplants are successful and last for many years without any problems, but some people will require multiple transplants during their lifetime.

It is necessary to understand that dialysis or transplant do not get rid of the kidney disease. These treatments are not a cure. They extend your life expectancy and keep the symptoms from worsening for as long as you live.

How Long Can You Live with Stage 5 CKD?

If your kidney failure is detected timely and you start with dialysis early, stage 5 kidney disease life expectancy is 5 to 10 years on average. Studies have revealed that many patients have lived well on dialysis for even 20 to 30 years, depending on their eating habits and lifestyle changes.

If you have a kidney transplant, healthcare experts believe that on average, a living donor kidney can function anywhere between 12 to 20 years. A deceased donor kidney can improve quality of life for 8 to 12 years.

Life Expectancy for Stage 5 Kidney Failure Without Dialysis

Dialysis can play a significant role in helping you continue to live, but it will not increase your life expectancy or treat the problem. Supportive or palliative care is essential for maintaining your quality of life and managing your symptoms while you suffer from kidney disease and choose not to have dialysis.

Without dialysis, there is no life expectancy for a stage 5 kidney disease patient, as it varies depending on the patient’s unique medical history, response to medication, and other factors. In most cases, life expectancy without dialysis could be anywhere from days to weeks.

It also depends on the following factors:

  • Amount of kidney function
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Overall medical condition

Without proper treatment, toxic waste and fluid will build up in the body. There are certain medications that doctors will prescribe to manage this discomfort. Doctors also recommend ultrafiltration therapy to remove fluid buildup, making it easier for you to breathe.

It is essential to know that end-stage renal disease is the end stage of kidney function, not the end stage of life. Timely treatment, good care, and overall health play a significant role in your life expectancy and offer you a chance at survival despite the severity of the disease. There is no cure for kidney diseases, and renal damage cannot be reversed, but you can live healthily for decades with the right treatments. Consult the top nephrologist at the Century Medical and Dental Center to learn more about your condition and how it can be handled right. The expert physicians will guide you regarding dialysis and transplant and how they give you a chance to remain active and on your feet for as long as possible.

SHARE THIS POST Page Updated on Dec 18, 2022 by Dr. Dvorkina (Primary Care Doctor) of Century Medical & Dental Center
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