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What is kidney failure?

The final stage of chronic kidney disease is kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease. People with kidney failure need dialysis, in which blood is cleaned through a machine, or a new, healthy kidney through transplantation.

Kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease or ESRD, is a chronic condition in which extra fluid and harmful wastes build up in the body because the kidneys no longer work properly. A person with kidney failure needs dialysis or a kidney transplant. The kidneys are the two bean-shaped organs located near the middle of the back. They filter wastes from the blood, form urine, and send it to the bladder.

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Kidney failure or disease includes conditions that damage your kidneys. When this happens it lowers your kidneys ability to remove wastes in your blood. If these wastes accumulate in your body without proper filtration, you will die. There are generally no symptoms in the early stages of kidney failure, but as the disease progresses, you may experience nausea and vomiting, decrease appetite, itching, muscle cramps and exhaustion. You blood work will indicate high level of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine. Treatment will require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Kidney or renal failure occurs when the kidneys are unable to do their job of filtering blood and ridding the body of waste products. One cause of renal failure relates to narrowings of the renal arteries, starving the kidneys of oxygen and nutrients.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.