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How Can I Treat Chronic Kidney Disease

Posted by Reliant Renal Care

You’re tired, weak, have some swelling in your legs, and have trouble sleeping at night. You might just pass this off as getting older. In fact, it could be the beginning signs of chronic kidney disease, the gradual loss of kidney function over time. Because the symptoms don’t seem serious and damage to kidneys is often happening due to other conditions, many people don’t know they have chronic kidney disease until they are well into the final stages of the deadly disease.

There are 26 million American adults that have kidney disease and most don’t know it. One-third of Americans are at risk for developing the disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic kidney disease. We do know that people with diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and who are 60 and older at a much greater risk of developing the disease. Cardiovascular disease, obesity, smoking and kidney stones are also risk factors.

Once you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, your treatment options will depend on the progression of the disease and the damage already done to your kidneys. Much of your initial treatment will revolve around preventing complications from continuing, controlling other diseases that might be contributing to your kidney damage, and alleviating your symptoms to make you more comfortable.

How do I prevent kidney damage?

  • Eat Healthy
    Simply eating healthier can help slow the progression of kidney disease. Eat a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and limited refined and processed foods high in sugar and sodium. Consume enough calories along with vitamins and minerals as recommended by a doctor or dietitian. Your doctor may also recommend eating less protein, which reduces the amount of work your kidneys have to do. Your eating plan will balance your need for calories with your need to limit certain foods, such as sodium, fluids, and protein.
  • Exercise & Maintain A Healthy Weight
    Make some type of physical activity a routine part of your life. Work with your doctor to design an exercise program that is right for you. Stay at a healthy weight. These two things can reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.
  • Keep Your Blood Pressure At An Optimum Level
    If you have high blood pressure, learn to check it at home and keep it at less that 130/80.
  • Keep Blood Sugar Levels Within Target Range
    If you’re a diabetic, keep your blood sugar levels under control and within the target range set by your doctor. You can help control these levels with diet, exercise, and medicine. A steady high blood sugar level can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys.
  • See Your Doctor Regularly
    Once you’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, you should schedule regular visits with your doctor so that he or she can monitor kidney functions, medications, and other prescribed actions to help slow down your kidney failure.
  • Take Prescribed Medications
    Your doctor may prescribe medications as part of your kidney treatment to help treat your symptoms and other diseases in order to slow further kidney damage and make you more comfortable. Medications may be prescribed to alleviate the following conditions: high blood pressure, anemia, swelling, weak bones, and protein in urine.
  • Have A Kidney Transplant
    If you have a sudden kidney failure or kidney disease that progresses to failure, you may want to consider a kidney transplant. With a kidney transplant, a healthy donated kidney is surgically placed into your body to replace one of your kidneys. People who have kidney transplants live longer than people treated with dialysis. However, there are no guarantees with a transplant. First, you have to be considered a good candidate for transplant, which usually means someone who doesn’t have any other diseases. Then, you have to wait for someone to donate a kidney and it might be hard to find a good match for your blood and tissue types. In the meantime, you will have to undergo dialysis treatment. Even when there is a good match, there’s no guarantee your body will accept the new kidney. And, you’ll have to take medications the rest of your life.
  • Start Dialysis
    If your kidneys stop functioning and producing any waste output altogether, you most likely have end-stage kidney disease. At this point your choices are either a transplant (discussed above) or dialysis. Dialysis mechanically performs the work that healthy kidneys would do. It removes waste products and extra fluid from your blood and restores the proper balance of chemicals. You can choose to continue dialysis treatments for many years. Or, dialysis might just be a short-term solution while you are waiting for a kidney transplant. The “cleaning” process is done in two different ways:

    • Hemodialysis: This is a treatment that can be done in a center or in a patient’s home with assistance from a care partner. A dialysis machine removes a small amount of a patient’s blood through a man-made membrane called a dialyzer, or artificial kidney, to clean to clean your blood. The filtered blood is then returned to the body. Before hemodialysis treatments can begin, a surgeon creates a site where blood can flow in and out of your body. This is called the dialysis access. You are connected to the dialyzer by tubes attached to your blood vessels. Usually the doctor creates the access by joining an artery and a vein in the forearm or by using a small tube to connect an artery and a vein. An access may be created on a short-term basis by putting a small tube into a vein in your neck, upper chest, or groin. 
    • Peritoneal dialysis (PD): Unlike hemodialysis, PD is a needle-free treatment using the lining of your belly, which is called the peritoneal membrane, to filter your blood. In peritoneal dialysis, a thin tube (catheter) inserted into your abdomen fills your abdominal cavity with a dialysis solution that absorbs waste and excess fluids. After a period of time, the dialysis solution drains from your body, carrying the waste with it. A care partner is not required to to help assist during treatment, making this treatment able to be performed at home or at work. Before you can begin peritoneal dialysis, a surgeon needs to place a catheter in your belly to create the dialysis access.
  • What NOT To Do
    To assist in curbing the progression of your kidney disease, your doctor may suggest that you quit or avoid the following things:

    • Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products.
    • Don’t drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.
    • Avoid taking medicines that can harm your kidneys.
    • Avoid dehydration.
    • Avoid products containing magnesium, such as antacids like Mylanta or Milk of Magnesia or laxatives like Citroma.
    • Avoid X-ray tests that require IV dye (contrast material).

Contact Reliant Renal Care For More Information

If you’ve reached the later stages of chronic kidney disease, contact us for more information about the variety of dialysis options available to you. Our team’s mission is to provide our patients with education, understanding, and care in treating kidney disease. We want to make sure you know that you have a choice in your kidney dialysis treatments, whether it be in one of our modern dialysis centers, your skilled nursing facility or the comfort of your own home.You can contact us at 610.892.4700 to answer your questions and see our locations in states throughout the country.