Chronic Kidney Disease Treatments & Medications
Did you know that the incidence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) has more than doubled over the last decade? The odds of developing this condition are still very low for people under the age of 60, but the kidneys need to be protected starting at a young age. If you or someone you know has developed renal impairment or CKD, it’ll probably be for life. Luckily, there are effective kidney disease treatments available.
Doctors and nephrologists (click here to learn more about nephrology) have three main goals for CKD treatment:
- Control a patient’s signs and symptoms
- Prevent further complications (complete kidney failure)
- inhibit disease progression as much as possible
CKD Treatments that Address the Root Cause
If you’ve experienced renal impairment or other symptoms of kidney disease, your doctor will first work to address the cause. The best course of treatment will vary depending on the cause. Unfortunately, CKD clinical trials have shown us that the kidneys can continue to worsen even after the underlying condition has been addressed.
Treating Kidney Disease Complications
Someone with chronic kidney disease can easily develop further complications. Without treatment, these can quickly become life threatening. Your doctor may prescribe the following in order to address CKD complications:
- Hypertension Medications – Chronic kidney disease is often associated with high blood pressure (hypertension). Doctors often prescribe angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or other hypertension medications in an effort to lower their patient’s blood pressure and help preserve kidney function. Your doctor may also take several blood tests shortly after starting you on this course of treatment. This is normal as they can cause a short dip in electrolytes and kidney function starting out.
- High Cholesterol Medications – This is another condition that is often associated with CKD, so your doctor may prescribe statins as a part of chronic kidney disease treatment. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease if not addressed properly.
- Anemia Medication – Certain supplements like erythropoietin (uh-rith-roe-POI-uh-tin) and iron help the body produce more red blood cells. Reduced kidney function or failure often causes chronic fatigue and other symptoms of anemia (reduced red blood cells).
- Diuretics – Chronic kidney disease causes the body to retain excess fluids, which causes swelling in the legs and high blood pressure. Diuretics are medications designed to address this swelling by maintaining a balance of fluids in the body.
- Vitamin D and Calcium – These supplements help to reinforce bone strength (an increased risk for CKD patients). There are also medications which will reduce phosphate levels and calcium deposits (calcification) in the blood.
- Low Protein Diet – A diet that is high in protein can cause a buildup of waste in the blood. Damaged kidneys won’t be able to filter it out effectively, so a low protein diet can help reduce the strain placed on these compromised organs. There are actually a number of superfoods that support improved kidney function.Working with a dietician to make this type of change can be very helpful.
End-Stage Kidney Disease Treatments
The lack of noticeable symptoms early on means that many cases aren’t diagnosed until they’ve become quite serious. Once kidney function has been reduced by 90% or more, the condition is known as end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Patients who develop ESKD will require dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to stay alive.
- Dialysis – The patient’s blood must be cleared of waste and excess fluid and this can be done two ways:
- Hemodialysis – Involves pumping blood through a machine that filters out the waste and excess fluids.
- Peritoneal Dialysis – A catheter (thin tube) containing a dialysis solution is inserted into the patient’s abdominal cavity. This solution then absorbs excess fluids and waste and then drains from the body over a brief period of time.
- Kidney Transplant – This surgical procedure involves replacing the failed kidney with a donor. These new kidneys can come from organ donors who are alive and deceased. Unfortunately, patients will have to take special medication to ensure their body doesn’t reject the new organ.
As you can see, treating kidney disease is not easy. We highly recommend that you consider testing your kidney function on a routine basis, especially if this condition runs in your family. The condition can be reversed if it’s identified early on.
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