A person with stage 5 chronic kidney disease has end stage renal disease (ESRD) with a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 15 ml/min or less. At this advanced stage of kidney disease, the kidneys have lost nearly all their ability to do their job effectively, and eventually dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to live.
Symptoms that can occur in stage 5 CKD include:
Because the kidneys are no longer able to remove waste and fluids from the body, toxins build up in the blood, causing an overall ill feeling. Kidneys also have other functions they are no longer able to perform such as regulating blood pressure, producing the hormone that helps make red blood cells and activating vitamin D for healthy bones.
If you are diagnosed with stage 5 CKD, you will need to see a nephrologist immediately. This is a doctor who is trained in kidney disease, kidney dialysis and transplant. The doctor will help you decide which treatment is best for you—hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis (PD) or kidney transplant—and will recommend an access for dialysis. Your nephrologist will develop your overall care plan and manage your healthcare team.
Most people report feeling much better once they begin dialysis. As the toxins are removed from the blood medicines replace the functions the kidneys can no longer perform, they find they can enjoy a good quality of life. There are two types of dialysis treatments for people with stage 5 kidney disease.
If you wish to have a kidney transplant, tell your nephrologist. Your nephrologist will explain the process of how to get on a waiting list for a cadaverous kidney or how to find a living donor.
When at stage 5 CKD, either dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to continue living.
Once you begin dialysis, you will need to make changes in what you eat and drink. Your diet is a big part of your treatment, so you will be working with a dietitian who will coach you on how you should eat. Depending on the dialysis treatment you choose and your lab test results, your dietitian will help create a meal plan based on your individual requirements to keep you feeling your best. Your dietitian will explain what foods are restricted and which ones are recommended on the renal diet.
A healthy diet for stage 5 CKD may recommend:
When a person learns he or she has stage 5 kidney disease, working with a nephrologist is necessary to ensure they have the right tools to treat their condition.
If you would like to see a doctor who specializes in the care of kidneys, called a nephrologist, you can use DaVita's Find a Kidney Doctor tool to locate a nephrologist in your area.
This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a physician.
Please check with a physician if you need a diagnosis and/or for treatments as well as information regarding your specific condition. If you are experiencing urgent medical conditions, call 9-1-1