Kidney Disease And Treatment – Know Your Treatment Options

In this post, we are going to be discussing Kidney Disease and Treatment Options for those who are in stage 5.

In my earlier post, we discussed GFR Levels For Kidney Disease which you can read here 

Treatment Options For Stage 5 Kidney Patients

When you reach stage 5 kidney disease you are going to need some treatment to support your kidneys and maintain life. Your treatment options will be Dialysis, Transplant or Supportive Care without dialysis.

Dialysis Treatments

Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly. It often involves diverting blood to a machine to be cleaned.

There are 2 main types of dialysis hemodialysis and peritoneal, you can discuss with your kidney doctor which treatment will suit you best depending on the advantages and disadvantages and the impact on your lifestyle.

> This treatment can be done at home or the hospital it is the most common type of dialysis. A tube is attached to a needle in your arm, blood is then passed from your arm and into a machine to filter your blood of toxins and waste. The clean blood is then passed back into your arm. The treatment is usually carried out 3 times a week and takes about 4 hours to complete each session

Side Effects Of Haemodialysis Can Include The Following

  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure causing dizziness
  • Sepsis
  • Muscle cramps especially in the lower legs
  • Itchy skin
  • Insomnia
  • Pain in the bones and joints
  • Erectile dysfunction and loss of libido
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth

Peritoneal > This treatment is mainly done at home. Peritoneal dialysis uses the inside lining of your abdomen (the peritoneum) as the filter, rather than a machine. You will have a small tube inserted into the lining of your stomach near your belly button called a catheter, this will stay in place permanently. Fluid is then pumped into your peritoneal cavity and this fluid cleans the blood of toxins and waste. The fluid is then drained back out into a bag a few hours later. This process needs to be repeated around 4 times a day, pumping and emptying the fluid takes about 30-45 mins each time.

Some people have Peritoneal dialysis overnight while they sleep.

Side Effects Of Peritoneal Can Include The Following

  • Peritonitis (infection of the stomach lining)
  • Hernia
  • Weight gain
  • Catheter blockage
  • Abdominal pain
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps

Any decision you make about which procedure to have won’t be final. It’s possible to move from one to the other.

Dialysis is not a cure for kidney disease, its to do some of the work that your kidneys would do. You will need to have dialysis for the rest of your life unless you are able to have a transplant.

Average life expectancy for somebody on dialysis is between 5 -10 years depending on other health issues and how you react to your treatment plan. Although many dialysis patients have lived for 25 -30 years

When on dialysis you will need to follow a special diet. You will need to limit the amount of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. Your dietary needs may vary depending on the type of dialysis treatment you receive, so you will be advised by your doctor and dietician about a diet for your specific needs. This diet will make you feel better in between sessions of dialysis and also help your dialysis treatment work much better giving you a longer better quality of life.

You can purchase cookbooks that have recipes of great tasting meals that are full of all the nutrients and minerals specific for a kidney patient from Amazon Here 

Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant may be the treatment option you and your doctor choose, it will allow you to live like you did before you got kidney failure, it is not a cure and has only 1 kidney is transplanted it only provides 50% of normal kidney function and you will need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life, missing the drug for just 24 hours can result in rejection.

If you are a diabetic you will most likely be offered a pancreas transplant alongside the kidney transplant

The benefit of Transplant Over Dialysis

The benefit is that other than cleaning your blood of toxins your kidneys can do the other jobs it is supposed to like producing hormones, getting rid of excess fluid from your blood, converting vitamin D from your food and helping to control blood pressure. You will also NOT need to be on a specific diet but it is still advisable to have a healthy diet.

How Long Does a Transplanted Kidney Last

If your transplanted kidney has come from a living donor like a family member the average life span of the donated kidney will be around 15 years if the donor has come from a deceased donor the average life span is around 12 years. Your age and overall health can also affect the average lifespan

Another way of looking at how long a transplanted kidney is likely to last is to look at the percentage chance that the kidney will be working at set time points.

  • a 90% chance (nine out of ten) of working one year after the operation
  • a 70% chance (seven out of ten) of lasting five years;
  • a 50% chance (five out of ten) of lasting ten years or more.

You will need regular blood tests after your transplant so the doctor can check how well your kidney is working and to check your immunosuppressive drug levels. The rate at which you have these tests will gradually reduce over time.

If your transplanted kidney fails or reaches its lifespan, you will be put on dialysis and back onto the transplant waiting list.

Complications of A Kidney Transplant

Any surgery carries risks and complications, below are some specific to a kidney transplant

  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Leaking from or blockage of the tube (ureter) that links the kidney to the bladder
  • Donated kidney failing
  • Donated kidney has been rejected
  • Infection or cancer if the donated kidney has them
  • Death, heart attack and stroke

Anti-rejection medication side effects

You will take medications to help prevent your body from rejecting the donor’s kidney. These medications can cause side effects, including:

  • Acne
  • Bone thinning (osteoporosis) and bone damage (osteonecrosis)
  • Diabetes
  • High hair growth or hair loss
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Skin cancer and lymphoma
  • Infection
  • Edema
  • Putting on weight

Supportive Care without Dialysis.

You can decide to not have dialysis or a transplant, and in some patients, they are advised against having treatment because of other illnesses and it can cause more problems meaning no improvement in quality or lifespan of life. Or it may be because they are already very frail and they do not want complex treatments. Some people may have tried the complex treatment for a while and now they wish to stop.

You will still receive care and support from health professionals and you may be prescribed medication and a special diet to improve your quality of life until your kidneys completely fail. You will then receive end of life care.

If it is your decision to opt for supportive care without dialysis, please make sure you discuss your decision in detail with your health professionals and family members. It is easier to make a decision about treatment when you have all the information you need. Hospitals offer education sessions about dialysis, transplantation, and non‐dialysis supportive
care. These sessions give you and your family time to ask questions. Talking to a social worker or counselor can also be helpful.

1 in 5 patients with kidney disease and 1 in 3 patients on dialysis suffer from depression. If you are considering non‐dialysis supportive care, it is important to determine that the reason for this is not just because you have depression. It is normal to feel angry, sad and upset when you are diagnosed with kidney failure. This feeling will only last for a limited time.   If you think you are depressed, it is important to talk to someone.

Kidney Diet Cookbooks

Just an add on, I have come across a website where new research is showing that Resistant Starch Reduces Systemic Inflammation which helps give relief for end-stage kidney disease Read It Here


2 thoughts on “Kidney Disease And Treatment – Know Your Treatment Options”

  1. Kate says:

    Hi Garry, this is incredibly helpful and I really wish I could have read it sooner. A dear friend of mine has been Type 1 since she was about 11. Watching her through three transplants and then never-ending dialysis was so hard. Thank you for educating all of us!

    1. Garry Brown says:

      Hi Kate

      Thank you for your comment, sorry to hear about your friend, diabetes is such a cruel disease.

      Glad you found the information useful

      Thanks, Garry

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