How Chronic Kidney Failure is Treated

Until relatively recently, the outlook for those with chronic kidney disease was not very optimistic, as the kidneys preform an essential service in the body. Today, however, there are three common treatments that are used to treat kidney failure, specifically diet, kidney transplantation, and dialysis.

The Importance of Diet in Treating Kidney Failure

Typically, controlling diet is one of the first suggestions offered by doctors when treating kidney failure, although this is often considered an alternative medicine, so is met with varying degrees of acceptance in the medical profession, with much outright resistance.

Studies have found that in the early stages of kidney failure, eating foods low in protein, while still ensuring that other dietary needs are met, can reduce the rate of kidney failure. However, these results are not well documented and many doctors will not suggest their patients take any special predialysis steps, instead simply waiting for the disease to progress to the point when dialysis is needed.

A predialysis diet is one that is low in proteins and while diet is a controversial subject among many doctors in regards to treating kidney failure, it is commonly accepted that during dialysis proper nutrition is essential. A predialysis diet is not only low in protein, but it is also important to cut out other risk factors, like alcohol and smoking, as well as avoiding medications that can interfere with kidney function.

What is Dialysis?

The idea behind dialysis is to create a device that can do the job of the kidneys in someone with chronic kidney failure. The concept of dialysis dates back almost 100 years, but it would not be until the 1960's and 70's when dialysis became a practical and relatively safe practice.

There are two types of dialysis, namely hemodialysis and chronic peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, a vein is directly accessed and blood is filtered and replaced in the body. In Chronic Peritoneal Dialysis, a saline solution is injected into the abdomen and later removed. Chemicals like urea and creatinine, which build up in dangerous levels in those with kidney problems, is absorbed by the salt solution.

In those with End Stage Kidney Disease, in which less than 15% of kidney function is less, dialysis or kidney transplant is the only choice. In the United States, Dialysis is paid for by the Government and renal failure is one of the few factors that allow an individual to join Medicare, a federally funded insurance program, before they are 65. Without this coverage, dialysis is very expensive and even with it, the drain it puts on an individual and the resources required to preform it can be exhausting. In fact, it was reported that about 20% of those on dialysis voluntarily stop treatment, which is in effect a death sentence.

Kidney Transplants

Despite how effective dialysis can be, there is still a very high mortality rate, usually around 20%, and it can also be very taxing on the body. Kidney Transplant offers the best chance for survival, but getting a kidney can take a great deal of time, as the wait list is quite long. In kidney transplant, a kidney is taken from a donor and implanted into the body.

There is a high risk of the body rejecting the foreign kidney, so medication must be taken to help mediate this risk. It works best when a family member donates their kidney, however this is risky, as they will only have one kidney left. Since kidney disease is often hereditary, this means the donor would already be at an increased risk of renal failure.

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