What If My Kidneys Fail?


Some people live with kidney disease for years and are able to maintain kidney function. Others progress quickly to kidney failure.

Kidney failure means that your kidneys have lost most of their ability to function—less than 15 percent of normal kidney function. If your kidney function drops to this level, you may have symptoms from the buildup of waste products and extra water in your body.

To replace your lost kidney function, you may have one of three treatment options:

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is kidney failure that is treated by dialysis or kidney transplant.

Some people with kidney failure choose not to have dialysis or a transplant but continue to receive care from their health care team, take medicines, and monitor their diet and lifestyle choices.

Work with your health care team and family to consider your options and choose a treatment that is right for you.