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Chronic Kidney Disease

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When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects your whole body. It can cause serious heart, bone, and brain problems and make you feel very ill. Untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening.

When you have kidney failure, you will probably have two choices: start dialysis or get a new kidney (transplant). Both of these treatments have risks and benefits. Talk with your doctor to decide which would be best for you.

  • Dialysis is a process that filters your blood when your kidneys no longer can. It is not a cure, but it can help you feel better and live longer.
  • Kidney transplant may be the best choice if you are otherwise healthy. With a new kidney, you will feel much better and will be able to live a more normal life. But you may have to wait for a kidney that is a good match for your blood and tissue type. And you will have to take medicine for the rest of your life to keep your body from rejecting the new kidney.

Making treatment decisions when you are very ill is hard. It is normal to be worried and afraid. Discuss your concerns with your loved ones and your doctor. It may help to visit a dialysis center or transplant center and talk to others who have made these choices.

Learning about chronic kidney disease:

  • What is chronic kidney disease?
  • What causes it?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • What increases my risk for chronic kidney disease?
  • When do I need to see my doctor?

Being diagnosed:

  • How will my doctor diagnose chronic kidney disease?
  • Why is early diagnosis important?
  • What are the stages of chronic kidney disease?
  • What is the difference between acute renal failure and chronic kidney disease?
  • Who should I see about chronic kidney disease?

Getting treatment:

  • How is chronic kidney disease treated?
  • What type of medicines will I need to take?
  • When is dialysis needed?
  • Will I need a kidney transplant?

Ongoing concerns:

  • What is kidney failure?
  • What is a kidney transplant?
  • What is hemodialysis?
  • What is peritoneal dialysis?
  • What type of dialysis should I have?
  • How do I know if dialysis is working?

Living with chronic kidney disease:

  • What can I do at home for chronic kidney disease?
  • What diet changes will I need to make?
  • What do I need to know about taking medicines?
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 15, 2011
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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