Kidney Disease Treatment Options

Kidney Stones:
Most small kidney stones [less than 5mm] pass without the need for any treatment other than drinking extra fluids and taking pain medicine. If your pain is too severe, if the stones are blocking the urinary tract or if you also have an infection, your doctor will probably suggest medical or surgical treatment. The most commonly used treatment is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) which uses shock waves that pass easily through the body but are strong enough to break up a kidney stone.

Kidney Infections
Two of the most common kidney disorders due to infections are glomerulonephritis and bacterial pyelonephritis (pyelos means pelvis of the kidney). For glomerulonephritis, treatment consists of rest and antibiotics for any bacterial infection. The treatment may continue for one to two weeks after tests of blood, blood pressure, and the urine indicates that the kidneys are back to normal. Sodium and protein may be restricted. For pyelonephritis, the most important measures are to eliminate the bacteria with antibiotics given orally or intravenously and to correct any obstruction. When obstruction cannot be eliminated and recurrent infections persist, then long-term antibiotic therapy may be required.

Chronic Kidney Disease:
The goal of treatment for chronic kidney disease is to prevent or slow additional damage to your kidneys. Another condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure usually causes kidney disease, so it is important to identify and manage the condition that is causing your kidney disease. It is also important to prevent diseases or avoid situations that can cause kidney damage or make it worse. Although medication cannot reverse chronic kidney disease, it is often used to help treat symptoms and complications and to slow further kidney damage.

Kidney Transplants:
Most experts agree that transplants are the best option for people with kidney failure. In general, people who have kidney transplants live longer than people treated with dialysis. If you have kidney failure, your doctor may recommend a kidney transplant if you are a good candidate for surgery: i.e., if you do not have significant heart or lung disease, or other diseases such as cancer which might decrease your life span.
After a kidney transplant, Immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus help prevent your body from rejecting your new kidney. However, even with medication there is a chance that your body will reject your new kidney. If this happens, you will have to resume dialysis or have another kidney transplant. The success of the transplant also depends on what kind of donor kidney you are receiving. The closer the donor kidney matches your genetic makeup, the better the chances that your body will not reject it. A kidney transplant does not guarantee that you will live longer than you would have without a new kidney, and you may have to wait for a kidney to be donated. If so, you will need to have dialysis while you wait.

Dialysis is a mechanical process that performs the work that healthy kidneys would do. It clears wastes and extra fluid from the body and restores the proper balance of chemicals (electrolytes) in the blood. When chronic kidney disease becomes so severe that your kidneys are no longer working properly, you may need dialysis. You may use dialysis to replace the work of the kidneys for many years, or it may be a short-term measure while you are waiting for a kidney transplant. If you have severe chronic kidney disease but have not yet developed kidney failure, talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis would be best for you. Before starting dialysis, your doctor will arrange to have a surgeon place a dialysis access surgically in your body. Both types of dialysis can be expensive. But Medicare or insurance may cover most of the costs. Check with your insurance or Medicare about your coverage. The dialysis center or hospital can help you find the best way to pay for your treatment.

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