Treatment of kidney disease depends on the type of disease, the underlying cause, and the duration of the disease.
When treating kidney disease, your doctor will try to treat the original cause. Kidney infections can be treated with antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria. Inflammation due to an immune reaction is more difficult to treat. However, your doctor will try and control the immune reaction with immunosuppressant medications such as corticosteroids. These work only in some types of nephritis (inflammation of the kidney). Some people have to eat less salt and protein until the kidney can remove these substances from the blood properly. Taking a diuretic medication (or "water pills") to make the body excrete more water and salt can also help control the swelling associated with kidney disease.
If someone has acute kidney failure, treating the underlying cause will often return kidney function to normal. In almost all cases of kidney failure, it is very important for high blood pressure to be treated aggressively to prevent further damage from occurring and to delay the progression of the disease.
Dialysis or transplantation treats end-stage kidney failure. In hemodialysis, blood is filtered through a tube that's inserted in the vein. The tube is connected to a machine that cleans the blood of wastes and the "clean blood" is returned to the body through another tube. Hemodialysis is usually performed in a hospital in three 4-hour sessions a week. In peritoneal dialysis, the space between the abdominal wall and organs is filled with a cleansing solution that absorbs toxins from the abdominal lining. The solution is then drained out into a bag. This procedure is done at home one to four times a day, seven days a week or overnight using a cycling machine.
In kidney transplantation, diseased kidneys are replaced with a healthy one. Kidney transplants usually work at least 80% of the time. The greatest danger is that the body might reject the transplant. To prevent this, transplant recipients are given powerful medications to suppress the immune system; these have the potential drawback of making one more susceptible to infections and to some types of cancer. The risks are usually worth it since the new kidney improves a person's chance for a normal and health life.
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