What is end-stage renal disease?

End-stage renal (kidney) disease is the last stage of long-term kidney disease. At this point, either kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed in order for a person to survive. More people in the U.S. are developing end-stage renal disease due to increasing numbers of people who have diabetes.

What causes end-stage renal disease?

End-stage renal disease and milder forms of kidney disease can be caused by several conditions, common ones are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Severe infections
  • Polycystic kidney disease (numerous kidney cysts)
  • Birth defects or problems with the development of the kidneys
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged prostate causing obstruction
  • Multiple urinary infections
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Amyloidosis or multiple myeloma

What are the symptoms of end-stage renal disease?

  • Too much or too little urine production
  • Swelling, often in lower part of legs, ankles, and feet
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of hunger
  • Muscle jerks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Problems sleeping or too much sleeping
  • Metallic taste of food
  • Itching all over body
  • Confusion

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/14/2017.


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