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Chronic Kidney Disease

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Medications

Although medicine cannot reverse chronic kidney disease, it is often used to help treat symptoms and complications and to slow further kidney damage.

Medicines to treat high blood pressure

Most people who have chronic kidney disease have problems with high blood pressure at some time during their disease. Medicines that lower blood pressure help to keep it in a target range and stop any more kidney damage.

Common blood pressure medicines include:

You may need to try several blood pressure medicines before you find the medicine that controls your blood pressure well without bothersome side effects. Most people need to take a combination of medicines to get the best results. Your doctor may order blood tests 3 to 5 days after you start or change your medicines. The tests help your doctor make sure that your medicines are working correctly.

Medicines to treat symptoms and complications of chronic kidney disease

Medicines may be used to treat symptoms and complications of chronic kidney disease. These medicines include:

  • Erythropoietin (rhEPO) therapy and iron replacement therapy (iron pills or intravenous iron) for anemia.
  • Medicines for electrolyte imbalances.
  • Diuretics to treat fluid buildup caused by chronic kidney disease.
  • ACE inhibitors and ARBs. These may be used if you have protein in your urine (proteinuria) or have heart failure. Regular blood tests are required to make sure that these medicines don't raise potassium levels (hyperkalemia) or make kidney function worse.

Medicines used during dialysis

Both erythropoietin (rhEPO) therapy and iron replacement therapy may also be used during dialysis to treat anemia, which often develops in advanced chronic kidney disease.

  • Erythropoietin (rhEPO) stimulates the production of new red blood cells and may decrease the need for blood transfusions. This therapy may also be started before dialysis is needed, when anemia is severe and causing symptoms.
  • Iron therapy can help increase levels of iron in the body when rhEPO therapy alone is not effective.
  • Vitamin D helps keep bones strong and healthy.

What to think about

Talk with your doctor about what types of immunizations you should have if you have chronic kidney disease, such as hepatitis B, flu (influenza), and pneumococcal vaccines.

Also, be sure to discuss medicine precautions. Make sure to tell your doctor about all prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and herbs you are taking.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 29, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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