What Are the Different Treatments for Kidney Disease?

A. Pasbjerg

The decision of what treatments for kidney disease to use for a specific patient depends mainly on the underlying cause of the issue and how far it has progressed. The disease may be the result of a variety of health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, and proper management of those conditions can slow its progression. Most patients can benefit from following a specific diet designed to minimize damage to the kidneys and other parts of the body. Certain medications may be used to slow the disease, or to help with its side effects, while others should be avoided as they can make it worse. For those in whom the disease has progressed farther, dialysis or kidney transplant may be necessary.

Sometimes the answer is treating conditions that lead to kidney problems, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Sometimes the answer is treating conditions that lead to kidney problems, such as diabetes and hypertension.

One of the primary treatments for kidney disease is treating the condition that caused it in the first place. Many disorders, including diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol can all lead to renal disease. It is therefore critical for patients to follow all of their doctors' instructions for treating these diseases, such as taking medications or following certain dietary restrictions. This can help slow the damage being done to their kidneys.

Dialysis is often used to treat advanced kidney disease.
Dialysis is often used to treat advanced kidney disease.

Another of the treatments for kidney disease that can help many people is following a diet designed to reduce impact on the kidneys and minimize the effects of the disease on other parts of the body. Decreasing protein and fluid intake can both help slow damage from renal disease. Reducing salt intake can help lower high blood pressure, which is often responsible for progressive kidney damage. Potassium and phosphorus intake should also often be reduced, as the kidneys may be less able to filter them out, and high levels may negatively affect the heart and bones.

Taking certain drugs and avoiding others is also important during kidney disease treatment. Medications like ACE inhibitors to reduce blood pressure or insulin for diabetes are usually critical to slowing the progression of damage. Other drugs such as NSAIDs, magnesium hydroxide, and pseudoephedrine should not be taken as they may cause further harm. Some medications may be needed to manage the issue associated with the disease, including diuretics for fluid retention or sodium bicarbonate for acidosis. Smoking and drinking alcohol should also be avoided.

When damage has progressed too far, treatments for kidney disease may need to be more aggressive. If enough kidney function has been lost, regular dialysis may be needed to help filter waste from the blood. Excessive damage may make a transplant necessary.

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