How Long Does it Take to Die from Kidney Failure Without Dialysis

Kidney failure, also referred to as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is a serious medical condition where the kidneys lose their capacity to function properly. 

When the kidneys stop performing their vital functions, dialysis is a frequently used treatment.

Dialysis is not a treatment option or a requirement for everyone with kidney failure.

This article aims to provide a detailed overview of the prognosis, factors affecting survival, and the options available for those who choose to forego dialysis.

Understanding Kidney Failure

Knowing how the kidneys contribute to overall health will help you understand the effects of kidney failure without dialysis. 


how long can you live on dialysis


The kidneys are important organs that filter waste and extra fluid from the blood, control electrolyte levels, and produce hormones that lower blood pressure and promote the production of red blood cells. 

When the kidneys stop working properly, these vital processes are hampered, which causes a buildup of waste materials and fluids in the body as well as other problems.

Prognosis Without Dialysis

The underlying cause of kidney failure, the person’s general health, age, and the presence of other medical conditions are all important considerations in determining the prognosis for kidney failure patients who elect not to undergo dialysis. 

In general, the prognosis is not good without dialysis or a kidney transplant. 

The rate of deterioration and the amount of time it takes to reach a life-threatening stage can change, though.

Underlying Cause: Kidney failure’s underlying cause affects how the disease develops in a significant way. 

For instance, acute kidney injury (AKI) may cause transient kidney dysfunction that is treatable without dialysis. 

The prognosis is less favorable, though, when chronic kidney disease (CKD) develops into end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

General Health: The degree of kidney failure that develops over time can be influenced by a person’s general health as well as their medical history. 

Kidney function may deteriorate more quickly in people who have multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Age: This is an important consideration. Due to the natural aging process and the body’s decreased capacity to compensate for kidney disease, older adults may have a shorter life expectancy without dialysis.

Complications can include fluid overload, electrolyte imbalances, anemia, and cardiovascular issues as kidney failure progresses. 

These issues may result in a lower quality of life and a shorter survival time.

Estimating Survival

Medical professionals frequently follow a general framework known as the “survival pyramid,” despite the fact that it can be difficult to predict a patient’s exact chance of surviving without dialysis. “The pyramid shows that:

Most people with kidney failure won’t survive more than a few weeks or months without any treatment.

Survival may last for a few months to a year or more with conservative management, which entails dietary adjustments, medication, and close observation.

When kidney failure is present, a person’s quality of life may decline even though they may live for a significantly longer period of time.

It’s important to remember that these approximations should only be used as general guidelines and may vary from person to person.

Living Conditions

When deciding against dialysis, quality of life should also be taken into account in addition to survival time. 

People may experience a decline in their general health as kidney failure worsens, which is characterized by symptoms like fatigue, nausea, weakness, and cognitive decline. 

The experience may also include some degree of pain and discomfort.

Dialysis Alternative

Palliative care becomes crucial for those who choose not to receive dialysis. 

Palliative care concentrates on enhancing the quality of life for people with life-threatening illnesses, controlling symptoms, and offering emotional and psychological support. 

When the goal is to provide comfort and dignity during the final stages of kidney failure rather than trying to extend life, patients may also look into the possibility of hospice care.


The progression and results of kidney failure without dialysis vary from person to person. 

It is a difficult and complex medical condition. 

Although it can be challenging to predict survival estimates, it is important for patients and their healthcare professionals to have honest conversations about available treatments, quality of life measures, and personal preferences. 

For those who opt not to receive dialysis, palliative care and hospice services can offer vital support and comfort, ensuring a respectful and kind end-of-life experience. 

In the end, the choice regarding kidney failure treatment should be made after consulting with medical experts and taking into account the specific circumstances and values of the patient.


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