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Understanding Kidney Disease -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Kidney Disease?

Medications, especially drugs that control diabetes and high blood pressure, can sometimes help slow the progress of chronic kidney disease. Treatment of electrolyte abnormalities and medications to control volume overload can help with the side effects of kidney disease. A sudden loss of kidney function may improve if the underlying cause -- such as a pregnancy complication -- is resolved.

But with long-term kidney disease, if the kidneys deteriorate and can no longer function at all, there are only two treatment options: dialysis, which uses an artificial device to clean the blood of waste products, or a kidney transplant.

Medications for Kidney Disease

High blood pressure may be both a cause and a result of kidney disease. Your health care provider may prescribe a blood pressure drug for your kidney disease, such as an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, such as captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), or ramipril (Altace), or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), such as azilsartan (Edarbi), eprosartan (Teveten), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), olmesartan (Benicar), and valsartan (Diovan). Along with controlling blood pressure, these drugs may reduce the amount of protein in your urine, which may also help your kidneys over time.

Since damaged kidneys may no longer be able to produce erythropoietin, which regulates the manufacture of red blood cells in the bone marrow, your doctor may need to give darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) or erythropoietin (Procrit, Epogen) to curb anemia. Medication to help control phosphorus levels, as well as vitamin D supplements, are often needed.

Drugs are excreted through the kidneys, so you'll need to consult with your health care provider before taking any medications -- including over-the-counter drugs. You may be told to avoid NSAIDs, such as  ibuprofen (Motrin,Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) and COX-II inhibitors, like celecoxib (Celebrex), which are possible contributors to kidney disease. Always discuss any alternative or herbal treatments with your doctor before trying them

Diet and Your Kidneys

With kidney damage, your kidneys lose their ability to rid the body of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and other waste by-products. Depending on your stage of disease, your doctor may advise a special diet to decrease the workload on your kidneys, keep body fluids and minerals in balance, and fend off a buildup of wastes in the body. If a special diet is advised, a kidney diet specialist, called a renal dietitian, can help. These diets may include reducing your intake of protein, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus.

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