Treating Renal Impairment & CKD
Patients with renal impairment, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD), kidney failure or renal failure, require regular doctor visits and treatment especially during the early stages of the disease. Treatment for kidney failure can actually protect the kidneys from further deterioration and their increasing loss of function. Medications and treatment options aside, monitoring blood pressure and analysis of blood tests and urinalyses to determine kidney function are essential cornerstones of renal care management.
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Early stages of chronic renal failure often lead to complete loss of kidney function, the fifth and final stage of renal impairment. At this stage, a disease known as end-stage renal failure (ESRF) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is irreversible and has no cure. Patients with ESRD require dialysis or kidney transplant to fill in for the kidneys’ lack of functioning.
If left untreated, chronic kidney disease leads to death. The loss of kidney function leads to numerous complications in the body from the lack of filtering of waste products from the body and excretion of urine. Toxic levels of waste products in the body eventually make it impossible for the body to survive. There are treatment options available, and today’s variety enables chronic kidney disease patients to conduct active lives.
Treatment for CKD includes the following:
- Quit smoking
- Eat healthily
- Exercise regularly
- Kidney transplant
- Treating underlying cause of CKD (examples: high blood pressure, diabetes) with the use of pills or other form of treatment
Dialysis artificially performs the functions of the kidneys by filtering waste products and removing urine from the body. The two main types of dialysis are peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis. There are two types of peritoneal dialysis: continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CaPd) and continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPd). Then there are also three types of hemodialysis: conventional home hemodialysis, short daily home hemodialysis and nocturnal home hemodialysis. Dialysis does not take the place of prescription medications, so patients must be responsible in taking their necessary drugs.
Hemodialysis removes waste products and excess fluid from the bloodstream. A small amount of blood is pumped into a dialysis machine where it filtered by a dialyzer, also known as an artificial kidney. After filtration, the blood is pumped back into the bloodstream. The types of hemodialysis are the following:
- Conventional home hemodialysis: The most commonly used hemodialysis, treatments are usually performed three times a week, and each treatment lasts for three to five hours for the average adult.
- Short daily home hemodialysis: Treatments are performed more often and for shorter periods of time. Compared with conventional hemodialysis, this type of hemodialysis boasts better nights’ sleep and improved control of blood pressure, anemia and blood phosphorus levels.
- Nocturnal home hemodialysis: Treatments are performed more slowly while patients sleep for about six to eight hours. Compared with conventional hemodialysis, this type of hemodialysis boasts better sleep and improved control of blood pressure, anemia and blood phosphorus levels.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) filters the blood inside the body as opposed to by a machine outside the body. The peritoneum (lining of the abdomen) naturally filters the blood. Dialysate (cleansing fluid) is pumped into the abdomen through a catheter. The wastes and excess fluid from the blood filter into the dialysate via the catheter. The catheter is put in place in the abdomen during minor surgery. The dialysate is removed and refilled with fresh fluid every few hours in a process known as exchange. PD boasts the advantage of flexibility in not being “tied down” to a hemodialysis machine. The types of PD are the following:
- Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CaPd): The patient himself four to six times daily performs exchanges.
- Continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPd): A cycler machine does the exchanges whenever the patient chooses. CCPD can be done while awake or sleeping in addition to one or two CaPd sessions.
In kidney transplant surgery, a new healthy kidney from a living or deceased donor is surgically attached to the bladder and blood vessels in the lower abdomen. For those patients who are candidates for transplant surgery, transplantation may allow a less restricted diet and more freedom and independence in a life without dialysis. A successful operation yields more efficient renal function than the artificial performance of dialysis, so patients with successful kidney transplants have more energy and generally feel better (more free of malaise, etc.) than do dialysis patients. The surgery lasts for about three hours and requires a five to seven day post-operation stay in the hospital for recovery as well as anti-rejection medications to be taken for as long as the new kidney remains in the body. However, there have been some risks associated with kidney transplants.
Speak with your doctor about the best treatment course for you. Renal failure does not have to consume your health, energy and life. With a healthy diet, exercise and kidney treatment, you could experience a new and improved you.