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Chronic Kidney Disease

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Treatment Overview

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Kidney transplant

Kidney transplant is often a better treatment option than dialysis for kidney failure, because it may allow you to live a fairly normal life. But there are some drawbacks. For example, you will probably need to have dialysis while you wait for a kidney.

To learn more about kidney transplants, see Surgery.

Making treatment decisions when you are very ill is difficult. It is normal to be fearful and worried about the risks involved. Discuss your concerns with your family and your doctor. It may be helpful to visit the dialysis center or transplant center and talk to others who have chosen these options.

Palliative care

Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have diseases that don't go away and that often get worse over time. It is different from care to cure your illness, called curative treatment. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit. It can be used at any point in the course of your kidney disease. Some people combine palliative care with curative care.

Palliative care professionals work with you and your doctor to help manage symptoms or side effects related to blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, or other conditions. Palliative care can help you sort out your feelings about living with kidney disease and about your treatment choices. It can help your family better understand your disease and how to support you.

If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to manage your care or refer you to a doctor who specializes in this type of care.

For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.

End-of-life issues

Chronic kidney disease progresses to kidney failure when damage to the kidneys is so severe that dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to control symptoms and prevent complications and death. Many people have successful kidney transplants or live for years using dialysis. But at this point you may wish to talk with your family and doctor about health care and other legal issues that arise near the end of life.

A time may come when your goals or the goals of your loved ones may change from treating or curing your disease to maintaining comfort and dignity. You may find it helpful and comforting to state your health care choices in writing (with an advance directive such as a living will) while you are still able to make and communicate these decisions. Think about your treatment options and which kind of treatment will be best for you. You may wish to write a durable power of attorney or choose a health care agent, usually a family member or loved one, to make and carry out decisions about your care if you become unable to speak for yourself. You also have the option to refuse or stop treatment. For more information, see the topic Care at the End of Life.

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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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