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Understanding Kidney Disease -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Kidney Disease? continued...

Your health care provider may also advise specific amounts of vitamins and minerals to take, such as calcium and the active form of vitamin D.

If You Have Diabetes or High Blood Pressure

Following a diet is just as critical for controlling diabetes and high blood pressure as it is for kidney health. With diabetes, it is important to make the right food choices so that your blood sugar levels stay under control throughout the day. With high blood pressure, a low-salt diet may be advised to control high blood pressure.

Dialysis

Once kidney disease has advanced to end stage, dialysis is needed to filter out waste products and remove excess fluid. Two types of dialysis are commonly used today:

  • Hemodialysis uses an artificial kidney machine with a mechanical filter to help cleanse your blood. Before the first treatment, a surgeon may create a fistula (or shunt), which connects an artery and vein, in your arm. Or you may require a dialysis catheter that goes into the jugular vein in your neck. Three times a week, for several hours at a time, another tube is connected to the shunt so that blood can be circulated through the kidney machine, cleaned, and pumped back into your body.
  • Peritoneal dialysis is a form of dialysis that makes use of the lining of the abdomen, or peritoneal membrane -- which has many of the kidneys' filtering characteristics -- to help clean the blood. In this treatment, a tube is surgically implanted into the abdominal cavity. Then, during each treatment, a dialysis fluid called dialyzate is sent (or "instilled") through the tube and into the abdomen. The dialysis fluid picks up waste products and is then drained out after several hours. Several cycles of treatment -- fluid instillation, time in the abdomen, and drainage -- are needed every 24 hours. Automated devices can now do this overnight, allowing people more freedom of movement and time during the day for usual activities.

Both types of dialysis have possible complications and risks, including infection. The stress of repeatedly having to do dialysis can also take its toll on emotional well-being.

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