Kidney Disease Treatment Options
Chronic Kidney Disease (often referred to as “kidney disease” or CKD) refers to kidney damage that may result in reduced kidney function. There are many different causes of kidney disease; however, high blood pressure and diabetes are the most common. Both conditions place a strain on the kidneys which eventually results in CKD.
The 5 Stages of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is divided into five stages, depending on the severity of the damage and how well the kidneys continue to function:
Stage 1 kidney disease means your kidneys have been damaged, but still function close to a normal rate – 90 percent or higher.
Stage 2 signifies a mild decrease in functionality. Your kidneys are working at 60 to 89 percent efficiency.
Stage 3 is divided into two cub-stages. If you’re in Stage 3a, you have a mild to moderate decrease in your kidney function, from 45 to 59 percent. Stage 3b patients have a moderate to severe decrease in kidney function, with only 30 to 44 percent remaining.
Stage 4 kidney disease means you have a severe kidney damage. Only 15 to 29 percent of your kidney function remains.
Stage 5 kidney disease means your kidneys have effectively failed and function at less than 15 percent. This stage is also known as “End-Stage Renal Disease” (ESRD) or “End-Stage Renal Failure” (ESRF).
Kidney disease does not show symptoms in its early stages; by the time you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, you may already have passed Stage 1. Kidney disease is progressive; without treatment, your kidneys will continue to decline from Stage 1 to Stage 5. However, there are ways to slow down the progression of your kidney disease.
The Importance of Nutrition
It’s important to control the kinds and amounts of food you eat when your kidneys are no longer functioning normally. Meet with your dietician and create a daily meal plan to meet your nutritional needs while putting less stress on your kidneys. While your meal plan may be similar to those of other kidney disease patients, you have individual needs that must be considered. A dietitian will adjust your plan according to your age, medical history, and remaining kidney function. Your dietitian will also take into consideration conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.
In addition to creating a specific diet plan, you must make changes to your lifestyle when you have kidney disease. Smokers need to quit smoking because it contributes to hypertension. You may drink alcohol, but only in moderation. Ask your doctor how many drinks you can have each day, and each week; this depends on your body mass and other factors.
It’s also important to exercise at least thirty minutes a day, five days a week. However, you must consult with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen. If you have a high stage of kidney disease, certain types of exercise may put too much of a strain on your body.
Treatment Through Medications
If your kidney disease is a result of hypertension, your treatment will likely include medication to maintain a low blood pressure level. This can prevent additional kidney damage, especially if you make positive changes to your lifestyle and diet. Your doctor may also prescribe cholesterol medication; people with kidney disease are often at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Besides blood pressure medication, you may have other options for treating the symptoms of kidney disease. Physicians often prescribe Vitamin D supplements for people with kidney disease. Patients with Stage 3 kidney disease and higher typically suffer from anemia; this can be corrected with iron supplements or injections of erythropoietin (a hormone that helps your body produce red blood cells). For those with Stage 4 or 5 kidney disease, your doctor may also prescribe phosphate binders to help balance your body’s phosphate levels.
In The Event of Kidney Failure
Kidney disease is very serious. Without dialysis or a transplant, your kidney failure could be fatal. Once your kidney function drops below fifteen percent, you need to take more drastic measures. You will probably require regular dialysis, and may be placed on the kidney transplant waiting list.
Dialysis removes waste and excess fluids from your blood. This is typically done by a dialysis machine which draws your blood, cleans it, and then returns it to your body. This process usually takes at least four hours; people suffering from kidney failure may need dialysis as often as five times a week – or more.
If you qualify for a kidney transplant, a kidney is removed from a living or deceased donor and transplanted into your body. If your body does not reject your new kidney, you will have a much greater chance of survival. However, fewer than ten thousand people in the United States receive kidney transplants each year. You will be put on a waiting list, which can be at least three years long. During this time, you will probably need to undergo dialysis until a matching kidney becomes available.
Early Diagnosis and Treatment Is Vital
Kidney disease does not show symptoms in its early stages; it is often difficult to diagnose and treat this disease before your kidneys begin to lose function. However, kidney disease can be detected by simple tests. If you are at risk of kidney disease, please take these tests regularly. If you have hypertension or diabetes (or any other risk factors for kidney disease) you should definitely take regular tests for kidney disease.
In addition to early testing, be sure to change your diet and lifestyle right away. While it’s good to detect and treat kidney disease early, it’s even better to help prevent this condition by adopting a healthy lifestyle.