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End-Stage Renal Disease – Symptoms and Causes

End Stage Renal Disease

The kidneys’ primary function is to filter waste and excess water from the blood. Kidneys have tiny filters which purify the blood and remove toxic waste products in the form of urine. Due to chronic illness, some of the body’s organs, including kidneys, may stop functioning correctly. Sometimes the kidney shuts down immediately. Other times it loses function over time.


End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is considered the final stage of renal disease where your kidneys are functioning at less than 20%.

What Is ESRD?

ESRD is commonly known as end-stage kidney disorder or kidney failure. The kidneys of such patients are working at life-threatening levels. In some cases, kidneys are barely functioning at all.


If diagnosed at an early stage, kidney disease can be cured by medications. However, the major issue with kidney problems is that around 90% of people affected by kidney issues don’t know they are having this problem because they are asymptomatic. This is dangerous because it is often diagnosed after it has done irreversible damage to the organ.


There are five stages of kidney disease. At stage one, patients can recover through medicines, but at stages four and five, patients will often need dialysis and transplant to stay alive. A kidney doctor near you will make the appropriate diagnosis when your kidneys are not functioning at optimal levels for a healthy lifestyle. When the diagnosis is at the fifth and last stage of kidney disease, this is called end-stage renal disease. At this stage, only dialysis and kidney transplant treatment can be done to save someone’s life.

Common Symptoms

Early detection is the key to controlling the loss of kidney function, but a patient does not have any specific symptoms in the initial stage. Many symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other diseases or illnesses, so it often goes unnoticed. Most symptoms occur after the disease has damaged the organ, which means the patient is badly affected and is at the fifth stage. Some symptoms of ESRD are discussed below:


  • Nausea and Vomiting: These two symptoms are very common, but don’t necessarily point to kidney issues. Other illnesses might show similar symptoms.
  • Muscle Cramps: The patient with kidney disease experiences mild to severe muscle cramps, especially during dialysis sessions.
  • Swelling: The most common symptom is swelling in the hands and feet of kidney disease patients because the body retains water, which causes swelling.
  • Urination: The quantity of urine becomes less over time. It goes from normal quantity to very low or not enough urine.
  • Shortness of Breath: Kidney patients usually have trouble catching their breath due to excessive fluid buildup near the lungs.
  • Rashes: Patients have persistent itching and rashes because of imbalanced chemical elements in their bodies.
  • Fatigue: Patients usually feel tired and generally ill. Their immune system also becomes weak.
  • Chest Pain: When the fluid is not removed and builds up near the heart lining, a patient might start experiencing chest pain.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure is another symptom of kidney disease. At times it is difficult to control.
  • Headaches: Another common symptom is a headache that people easily neglect and do not take seriously.
  • Difficulty in Sleeping: A patient may have trouble sleeping due to excessive water in the body and fluid buildup near the lungs or heart.
  • Diarrhea: Kidney patients usually have an upset stomach causing diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Weight Loss: Many patients experience unexplained weight loss while suffering from this illness.
  • Bruising: Kidney patients may bruise very easily anywhere in the body, even from a simple scratch.

Other symptoms include bone pain, confusion, decreased mental sharpness, nosebleed, bad breath, and excessive thirst.

What Are the Major Causes of ESRD?

In kidney disease, the nephrons are destroyed, which are the tiny filters on each kidney that help clean the blood and separate waste materials from it. The damaged nephrons do not clean blood properly, causing severe organ damage and eventually ESRD. As reported by many patients, the major causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure.


Many other diseases and illnesses can cause kidney disease, but kidneys can also shut down immediately after an operation or an injury. Some of the causes of kidney failure are discussed below:


  • Diabetes: High levels of blood sugar can also cause kidney illness. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the main reasons for kidney failure. In diabetes, the body does not break down glucose in the blood, damaging nephrons and affecting their function.
  • Hypertension: Uncontrolled blood pressure is another factor that has a direct relation to kidney disease. If your blood pressure goes too high, it can damage filters and blood vessels, leading to ESRD.
  • Glomerulonephritis: This disease damages glomeruli (the tiny filters of the kidney), making excretion of waste material from the body difficult.
  • Interstitial Nephritis: In this disorder, the kidney tubules get swollen or inflamed. This greatly reduces kidney function.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease: In polycystic kidney disease, a cyst develops within the kidney, causing it to enlarge and affecting its function. This is an inherited disease.

Concluding Remarks

About 10% of the world’s population is suffering from some form of kidney illness. Though it can be prevented if treated with an early diagnosis, kidney disease is often overlooked until it’s in the later stage, End-Stage Renal Disease. You can avoid this through early detection.


Don’t ignore the signs if you notice any of the symptoms above or have diabetes and a history of high blood pressure.


At South Texas Renal Care Group, we specialize in treating your kidneys to maintain their functionality. We’ll educate you about your health and how you can avoid kidney failure.
Do you need assistance? Please give us a call at (210) 212-8622. We can schedule an appointment with one of our specialists to talk about your concerns.

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South Texas Renal Care Group offers everything from diagnostic testing and dialysis to guidance on kidney transplantation and clinical trial opportunities, right here in our modern, comfortable offices. We have many locations throughout San Antonio and South Texas, so you can spend less time traveling and more time focusing on your health.

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At South Texas Renal Care Group, you have our undivided attention every step of the way. You’ll receive the expert treatment you need and the personal care and attention you deserve.