Kidney Disease Treatment

Receiving the appropriate treatment for chronic kidney disease, especially in the early stage of kidney failure, may slow down or even stop the progression of damage to the kidneys. During the early stages of kidney failure it is important that you make regular visits to your doctor and follow the instructions you are given. Careful management of blood pressure and monitoring your health using test results are essential in order to prolong your kidney function as long as possible.

Most people can improve their health by taking simple measures such as not smoking, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. Once you've been diagnosed with kidney failure you'll be referred to a medical team that specializes in the care of renal patients. The nephrologists (doctors who specialize in kidneys), renal nurses, and other medical personnel will monitor you closely. You will have regular appointments at your physician's office or a Dialysis center. Blood and urine tests will be done to determine the function of your kidneys.

When your kidneys have started to fail, waste products accumulate in your blood. Creatinine is one of the waste products that will be monitored on a regular basis. The creatinine level in your blood indicates how well or how poorly your kidneys are working. Your kidneys may be working well enough for you to manage your kidney failure just with medication and regular visits to your nephrologist.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are conditions that can lead to kidney failure. If you are diabetic watch your blood glucose levels and blood pressure, and keep them under control.

If high blood pressure is the cause of your kidney damage, good blood pressure control can slow or prevent further damage. It can also reduce the risk of damage to your heart and other body organs.

As the kidneys continue to fail, complications such as anemia and renal bone disease may develop, in which case your doctor will discuss a treatment plan based on the results of your laboratory tests. Ask your doctor to help you understand your test results. This is an important step to better health.

How long the early stage of kidney failure lasts depends on how much kidney function you have left when you are diagnosed, and how well you respond to medication and diet therapy. With regular laboratory monitoring, your doctor will be able to predict how your kidneys are responding to treatment.

Chronic kidney disease often progresses from early stage to complete failure. This is known as end-stage renal failure (ESRF) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). There is currently no cure for this condition and the damage done to the kidneys is irreversible. The medical treatment for complete failure is to replace the lost functions of the kidneys by dialysis or by a kidney transplant.

Dialysis is an artificial process of filtering wastes and removing fluid from the body. There are two kinds: peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis.

A healthy kidney transplanted from a donor functions like a normal kidney. Not everyone is eligible for a kidney transplant and there is a long waiting list for suitable donor kidneys. Kidneys are available from a living donor (who may either be related or non-related to the recipient) or a cadaver (a person who has died). A successful transplant provides much more efficient kidney function than dialysis, so patients feel better and have more energy.

Because of improvements in all the treatment options available, kidney patients today can enjoy an active lifestyle, take care of themselves and feel productive.

Some patients and families may choose to refuse treatment. If left untreated, kidney failure will eventually lead to death.

Treatment options for kidney disease include dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and kidney transplant. Proper treatment can depend on early stage or end stage kidney disease.

May 1, 2006