Medical Information from the NKF - I've got Kidney Disease - will I Need Dialysis or a Transplant?
Kidney disease is very common. However, less than 1 in 10 of the people with kidney disease develop failure of the kidneys requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Even though they may never develop complete kidney failure, people with kidney disease will benefit from tests to see if they are likely to develop problems in the future. If the blood pressure is high it should be treated to protect the kidneys against further damage and to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Kidney disease is a term used by doctors to include any abnormality of the kidneys, even if there is only very slight damage. It is often called ‘chronic’ kidney disease. Chronic is a medical term that means a condition that does not get completely better in a few days. A problem with the kidneys which gets better and leaves no damage, such as urine infection, is not chronic kidney disease.
Recent research suggests that 1 in 10 of the population may have slight kidney disease. This is more common in the elderly than in young people. In most cases people with kidney disease feel perfectly well and the kidney disease does not cause any symptoms. It is often, detected because tests are abnormal. These may be urine tests for blood or protein; an X-ray or scan of the kidneys; or a blood test to measure kidney function.
In many people cases the kidneys can continue to work for some years without deteriorating to a serious level.
Kidney failure is a medical term that can be confusing. It is sometimes used to mean that the kidneys no longer work well enough to remove toxins and water and that the disease in the kidney is severe.,because it refers to reduced kidney function, usually less than 30% of normal (or estimated kidney function of less than 30, click here It now is not used as often and has been replaced by end stage kidney disease which means that the kidneys no longer work well and dialysis and transplantation are considered. Click here for more information on the Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)).
Does all kidney disease lead to end stage kidney disease?
Most people with kidney disease have a minor problem and never develop end stage kidney disease . However, it is common for those with kidney disease to have high blood pressure and problems with the circulation, so that some tests and ongoing treatment are required.
Overall, less than 1 in 10 of those with any type of kidney disease will develop end stage kidney disease.
The long term outlook depends on the type of kidney disease present, and the severity of this disease. These factors will have to be discussed individually with the medical team.
The NKF website contains many information areas for different kidney diseases. Some of the common ones are listed here, for those that are not here, please click here to go to a longer page of links within this website and look down the menu.
Conditions that often lead to end stage kidney disease
Conditions that sometimes lead to end stage kidney disease
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Most types of glomerulonephritis (eg IgA nephropathy)
- Reflux nephropathy
- Renal artery stenosis
Conditions that rarely lead to end stage kidney disease
The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.