How Long Can You Live on Kidney Dialysis?

Once a patient has developed end-stage kidney failure there is only one treatment option available –dialysis. This treatment option isn’t a cure but it does extend the life expectancy of any patient diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Patient on Dialysis?

It is difficult to determine the how long a person can live once they start treatment for end-stage kidney failure because so many different factors influence life expectancy. Everything from the severity of the kidney disease and other health problems to how well a patient follows a treatment plan determines the life expectancy of an individual undergoing this type of treatment.

Even with all the varying factors, on average a person can live 5 to 10 years when seeking treatment for end-stage kidney failure. There are some patients who have lived longer on dialysis. These patients have had their life expectancy extended 20 or even 30 years by undergoing regular treatment for end-stage kidney failure.

Do Patients have an Option to Undergo Dialysis?

Yes, all patients with end-stage kidney failure have a say in their treatment. However, end-stage kidney failure is only diagnosed when the kidneys have lost 85% or more of their function. When the kidneys lose so much of their function, dialysis treatment is the only option available that will help a patient stay alive.

Failing to undergo this type of end-stage kidney failure treatment can be fatal. Without treatment patients often only live several weeks once end-stage kidney failure is diagnosed.

What is the Purpose of Dialysis and Does it Cure Kidney Disease?

The entire purpose of kidney dialysis is to take care of essential bodily functions that are unable to be performed because the kidneys no longer properly function. This treatment option does everything that healthy kidneys do including removing extra water, salt and waste from the body, maintaining safe levels of important chemicals – like potassium and bicarbonate – in the body, and controlling blood pressure.

Some people may have heard of people who underwent kidney dialysis and then no longer needed it. This makes people believe that this treatment is a cure for end-stage kidney failure, but it isn’t a cure.

When dialysis is used to treat acute kidney failure that may be caused by a sudden illness or accident, it may only be temporary. It is temporary because the kidneys have not been permanently damaged and only need this specific treatment to help them heal. However, if it is being used to treat or manage chronic or end-stage kidney failure, it is permanent and patients will need to undergo this treatment for the rest of their life.

If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, especially end-stage kidney failure, call Associates in Nephrology to schedule an appointment to learn about your treatment options. Our doctor, Dr. Lauer, can help you explore treatment options that will help you manage and control your kidney disease.