Your Ultimate Guide on How to live with Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD also called as Chronic kidney disease or chronic kidney failure involves a gradual loss of kidney function. The major role of kidneys is to filter wastes and excess fluids from blood, which are then removed via urine. Chronic kidney disease at advanced stages can cause the accumulation of dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes to build up in the body.

In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, there are few signs or symptoms due to which one may not realize that you have been suffering from kidney disease until the condition has progressed.

The treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing the progression of kidney damage, by controlling the cause behind it. But, even after taking the precautions and controlling the cause might not keep kidney damage from progressing. Artificial filtering or a kidney transplant is much needed once Chronic kidney disease has progressed to end-stage kidney failure.


How does Kidney Fail?

The loss of kidney function ends in kidney failure. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney failure. Kidney failure happens when majorly 85-90% of kidney function is gone, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) falls below 15, Kidneys don't work well enough to keep you alive. Creatinine level in the blood rises as your kidneys fail. The amount of creatinine in your blood is a factor used in calculating your GFR, as creatinine goes up, GFR goes down. Symptoms for kidney failure for some may be nausea, vomiting, a loss of appetite, weakness, increasing tiredness, itching, muscle cramps (especially in the legs), and anemia (a low blood count).

There is no cure for kidney failure, but with treatment, it is possible to live a long, fulfilling life. Having kidney failure is not a death sentence. People with kidney failure live active lives and continue to do the things they love.


What are the treatments available for Kidney Failure?

The major two treatments for kidney failure are dialysis and kidney transplantation.

A new healthy kidney is placed into the body in this kind of operation. A living donor or someone who has died can donate the kidney. The healthy kidney usually functions immediately. Medications are given to accept the new kidney. Even after transplant if there is rejection, dialysis is needed and a second transplant is suggested. A kidney transplant is a treatment, not a cure.

The extra fluid is removed from the blood in hemodialysis. It can be done at home ("home haemodialysis") or in a dialysis centre. While performing haemodialysis, the blood is pumped through soft tubes to a dialysis machine where it goes through a special filter called a dialyzer also called an artificial kidney. As the blood is filtered, it is returned to the blood stream. Only a small amount of blood is out of the body at any time. Dialysis done at the centre, the treatment time is 3-5 hours, 3 times a week. At home, people have more flexibility about how often it can be done. If done daily, treatment time would be 1½ to 2 hours. An access is necessity to enter into the bloodstream for placing needles that are needed for haemodialysis.

Following are the access points for haemodialysis:

Fistula- This is the most recommended choice for an access. A minor operation is needed to create a fistula. An artery is joined to a nearby vein under the skin to make a bigger blood vessel. This access is preferred because it has fewer problems and lasts longer.

Graft- If fistula is not an option due to physical issues, a graft may be used. A soft tube made of synthetic material is joined to an artery and a nearby vein. The graft is entirely beneath the skin. A minor operation is needed to create a graft.

Catheter- This is the third type of access, catheter is inserted into a large vein in the neck or chest. The ends of the tubes sit on the skin outside the body. When the need for dialysis is shorter this type of access is preferred.


Treatment for Kidney Diseases:

Peritoneal Dialysis is a home-based treatment that can be done anywhere. It needs to be done daily. A minor operation needs to be done to place a catheter in the abdomen. With peritoneal dialysis, the blood is cleaned inside your body, not outside. The lining of your abdomen acts as a natural filter. During treatment, a cleansing solution, called dialysate, flows into the abdomen through a soft tube called a PD catheter. The wastes and extra fluid passes from the blood into the cleansing solution. After several hours, the used solution is drained from the abdomen and is refilled with a fresh cleansing solution to begin the process again.

Kidney transplantation is the treatment of choice for many people with end-stage kidney disease. A successful kidney transplant can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of dying. Also, people who undergo kidney transplantation do not require hours of dialysis treatment. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of dialysis treatment. Understanding which suits best should be identified with the help of Healthcare professionals.

It is very important to get enough dialysis. Studies show that getting the right amount of dialysis improves overall health, that makes one feel better, and enables you to live longer. The healthcare professional will give you a "dialysis prescription" to make sure you get the right amount of treatment. That depends on:

  • working functionality of the kidneys
  • What is the fluid weight gained in between the treatments?
  • The amount of waste accumulated in the body

The dialysis care team will monitor the treatment with monthly lab tests to measure the amount of dialysis to be done. This is called "delivered dose of dialysis."

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