About 37 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). While there’s no cure for kidney disease, there are treatments that can help manage its symptoms and enable you to enjoy a healthier, happier life.
As a leading nephrology practice with four locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas, Houston Kidney Specialists Center is a trusted provider of kidney disease treatment. In this post, our team offers an overview of the four primary types of kidney disease treatments to help you understand your options.
The main job of your kidneys is to filter wastes out of your blood. When you have kidney disease, your kidneys are no longer able to act as filters, which allows fluids and waste products to build up in your body.
Hemodialysis uses a filtering machine called a dialyzer to perform the same filtering functions as your kidneys. During treatment, your blood travels through the dialyzer where it’s filtered and “cleaned” before being placed back into your body.
At the start of your treatment, two needles are placed in your arm — one to extract blood and one to allow blood back into your bloodstream once it’s filtered. Each needle is attached to a tube, which, in turn, is attached to the dialyzer machine.
As the blood passes through the dialyzer, a special solution attracts extra minerals and other materials, removing them from your blood. The dialyzer monitors your blood pressure and manages the speed of filtration and how quickly excess fluid is removed. Your doctor can adjust the chemicals in the dialyzing solution as needed to achieve optimal results for your specific needs.
Peritoneal dialysis also works to remove excess fluids and waste products from your body. However, instead of using a dialyzing machine, it uses your abdominal lining to help filter your blood, which means your blood never needs to leave your body.
Prior to beginning peritoneal dialysis, your doctor implants a soft, hollow tube called a catheter, which goes from your abdominal cavity to the surface of your body. During treatment, you allow dialyzing solution to flow from a bag through the catheter and into your abdominal cavity.
Once the solution is in your belly, you can cap off the catheter and go about your regular activities while the solution does its work. Once the fluid enters your abdominal cavity — which is filled with small blood vessels — the dialyzing solution helps draw out wastes and excess fluids from your blood to the dialyzing solution.
Every few hours, you drain the used solution and begin again with a fresh bag of solution. Most people perform this exchange process 4-6 times a day. Exchanges can also be performed overnight using a machine that attaches to the catheter. It’s very important to perform the number of exchanges your doctor prescribes, or your treatment will not be effective.
Kidney transplant surgery uses a donor kidney to perform the work that your own kidneys used to do. Kidney donors may be recently deceased, or you may receive a donation from a healthy relative or friend.
Typically, your kidneys are left in place and the donor kidney is placed nearby in your lower belly. While a kidney transplant is better at filtering your blood than dialysis, you’ll still need to take medication and see your doctor regularly for the rest of your life.
Conservative management is used when dialysis and kidney transplant surgery are not viable options. Some people may choose conservative management because they don’t want to undergo dialysis, a transplant is not available, or they’re not healthy enough for a transplant.
This type of kidney failure treatment focuses on medications to help manage the symptoms of kidney disease, including medicines to manage your blood pressure, reduce nausea, and decrease inflammation. You’ll also need to follow a special low-protein, low-sodium diet that decreases the strain on your kidneys.
The primary goal of conservative management is to help preserve kidney function while maintaining your quality of life for as long as possible. Many people opt for conservative management during the end stage of kidney disease, because they want to avoid hospital stays, needles, and the constraints of dialysis.
Our team works closely with every patient to help them understand their treatment options and select the one that works best for their needs and preferences. To learn more about kidney disease management, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.