Kidney failure is the end stage of CKD (chronic kidney disease). Kidney failure cannot be cured. But with proper treatment and care, it can be managed.
What Are The Treatment Strategies For Kidney Failure?
Changes in diet and lifestyle
Doctors usually recommend some lifestyle changes to patients suffering from CKD. Following these guidelines can go a long way in slowing down the progression of the disease.
- CKD patients are asked to give up smoking completely as it can be very harmful to their condition. Acute CKD patients in advanced stages may be asked to give up drinking alcohol completely.
- A healthy, balanced diet is essential for the good health of the kidneys and to avoid the appearance of any comorbidities.
- Patients suffering from CKD also have to control sodium levels in their bodies. They are generally asked to limit their daily salt intake to less than 6 grams (equivalent to a teaspoon).
- Regular exercise can help slow down the deterioration of the kidneys. Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise every week for adults.
- CKD patients who deal with obesity should try to reduce their weight so that weight-related problems like diabetes and blood pressure does not put any added strain on the kidneys
- Patients suffering from CKD should also avoid all over-the-counter pain killers and anti-inflammatories (NSAID) like Ibuprofen as the kidneys find it hard to flush out these drugs. CKD patients need to consult with their doctors before taking any medications.
Doctors prescribe different medications to CKD patients to protect their kidneys and alleviate the symptoms of their conditions. Most of these medications manage different body parameters, which can indirectly affect the kidneys.
- Blood pressure – Doctors closely monitor the blood pressure levels of CKD patients and recommend medications to keep blood pressure within the average range. ACE inhibitors are usually used to manage high blood pressure levels.
- Diabetes – medications, and insulin injections are recommended to CKD patients to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
- Cholesterol – Pople with high bad cholesterol levels are at high risk for heart and kidney diseases. Medications with statins are generally prescribed to control cholesterol levels.
- Water retention- Patients suffering from CKD often experience swelling in their hands, feet, and ankles due to a condition called water retention. Water retention occurs when the kidneys are unable to remove adequate amounts of water from the body. Patients experiencing water retention are usually required to reduce their daily fluid intake. Diuretics may also be prescribed to reduce the swelling.
- Anemia – Another common symptom of CKD is anemia. It can cause different problems like lethargy, feeling short of breath, and heart palpitations. Again, iron supplements can help to alleviate these symptoms.
- Bone thinning – People with CKD often experience accumulation of CKD in their body, and this can destroy the Calcium of the bones and lead to their thinning. Doctors recommend avoiding phosphate-rich foods like red meat, eggs, and dairy and prescribe calcium acetate or calcium carbonate. Vitamin D supplements are also usually prescribed for CK patients as they can experience a deficiency of this vitamin.
- Glomerulonephritis- This is a condition in which the kidneys are unable to function because the body’s immune system starts attacking the glomeruli filtration system of the kidneys. Doctors prescribe specific medications to solve this problem.
In some cases, lifestyle changes and medications prove to be insufficient, and the kidneys deteriorate further. In such a situation, the patient has to be put on dialysis. Dialysis is a process by which excess fluids and toxins are removed from the body, which the kidney cannot do anymore. Dialysis is primarily of two types_
- Haemodialysis- in this system, the patient’s blood is filtered outside the body with the help of a machine.
- Peritoneal analysis- in this process, the special dialysis fluid is pumped into a patient’s stomach to clear out toxins.
Haemodialysis patients usually have to visit the dialysis center multiple times a week for a few hours each time. Dialysis is also a permanent decision. Once a patient is put on dialysis, they need to continue it lifelong until they can get a kidney transplant.
- Transplant- people with acute CKD are usually put on a list for a kidney transplant. It usually takes years to find a perfect match, and patients need to take immunosuppressant medications constantly for the rest of their lives after the transplant. But successful kidney transplant patients can lead long, healthy and happy lives.
Kidney failure is a dangerous disease and cannot be cured. But timely and accurate treatment can manage it effectively. Research is also being conducted to find a cure for the condition.