How is chronic kidney disease treated?

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but steps may be taken in early CKD to preserve a higher level of kidney function for a longer period of time. People who have reduced kidney function should:

  • Make and keep regular doctor visits; a nephrologist (kidney specialist) might be recommended.
  • Keep their blood sugar under control (for diabetics).
  • Avoid taking painkillers and other medications that may make kidney disease worse.
  • Keep blood pressure levels under control.
  • Consult a dietitian regarding useful changes in diet. This may include limiting protein, eating to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and limiting sodium (salt) and potassium intake.
  • NOT smoke.
  • Treat anemia if present.

Because there is no cure for CKD, people who are in the later stages of the disease must consider options. Complete kidney failure, left untreated, will result in death. Options for patients in the end stages of CKD include dialysis and kidney transplantation.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is a procedure that uses machines to remove waste from the body when the kidneys are no longer able to perform this function. There are 2 major types of dialysis.

Hemodialysis

The hemodialysis machine has a dialyzer to clean the blood of waste products, excess water, and excess salt. The blood is then returned to the body. Hemodialysis is performed for 3 to 4 hours 3 times a week. This is done primarily at a clinic or hospital, but efforts are being made to implement home hemodialysis treatments.

Peritoneal dialysis

In peritoneal dialysis, the dialysis solution is introduced into the patient’s abdomen. The solution captures waste and then is removed via catheter. Fresh solution is added to continue the process of cleaning. This type of dialysis can be performed by the patients themselves. There are 2 types of peritoneal dialysis: continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), which involves a change in dialysis solution 4 times per day; and continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD). The latter procedure uses a machine to automatically fill, remove wastes, and refill the fluid during the nighttime.

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