When kidney disease is suspected, your doctor will use various tests to confirm the diagnosis and monitor your condition. Some of those tests include:
- Blood pressure: Keeping your blood pressure within normal ranges is very important when you have kidney disease. You may be provided with dietary adjustments and medications, if your blood pressure is higher than 130/80. Blood pressure will be checked both when being diagnosed and throughout treatment for kidney disease.
- Blood electrolytes: Kidneys not working as they should can result in high potassium, as well as low levels of calcium, phosphorus and bicarbonate. These levels can cause problems with the cardiac conduction system and complications like muscle aches.
- Urine protein test (albumin in the urine): Albumin is the primary protein in blood. Damaged kidneys do not filter this protein effectively. This is particularly true when kidney disease has caused enlarged filtering holes in the kidneys. As a result, protein leaks into the urine. Only small levels of albumin are detected in kidneys during the earliest stages of the disease. When first detected, it is important for people with diabetes to prevent additional damage by dieting, exercising and taking prescribed medications.
- Glomerular filtration rate: The glomerular filtration rate is an indicator of how well the kidneys are functioning in filtering of blood. A blood creatinine test will determine this GFR rate. This test measures creatinine in the blood and when results are associated with other factors like age, body size and gender, an estimate of the GFR results. A GFR rating of 90 or higher is normal. A rating of less than 15 is indicative of a future of kidney dialysis or even transplant. Creatinine clearance is another test which determines GFR rate.
- Kidney biopsy: If more specialized perspective is required, your primary physician may refer you to a nephrologist. A kidney biopsy may be ordered, which is removal of a small amount of tissue from the kidneys. This tissue is microscopically examined to find the cause of damage and guide potential treatment planning.
If kidney disease has not yet been diagnosed, initial tests may include:
- Blood tests: Measuring waste levels in the blood, such as creatinine and urea
- Urine tests: For detection of abnormalities indicating chronic kidney failure and to identify causes
- Imaging tests: Ultrasound and other imaging mechanisms may be used to assess kidney size and structure
- Biopsy: Under local anesthesia, a biopsy is conducted using a long needle inserted into the kidney through the skin
Kidney disease often has no cure. Some types can be treated through controlling of signs and symptoms, reduction of complications and other measures to slow disease progression. When the kidneys are severely damaged, specialized treatments for end-stage kidney disease are possibly needed.
Top 10 Treatments for Kidney Disease
The top treatments for kidney disease extend across several categories of treatment. Those include:
- Treatment of causes: This is one approach of the top ten, for treatment of kidney disease.
- Complication treatment: There are six primary complications which may be treated to slow progression of kidney disease.
- Treatment of end-stage kidney disease: End-stage kidney disease may be treated through use of dialysis or transplant. These are the two most drastic treatments of kidney disease.
- Lifestyle and home remedies: Changing your diet can help treat your disease, as one of the top 10 treatment methods.
Treatment of Causes
Treating the causes of your chronic kidney disease will help slow down the disease’s progression. Treatment options vary according to your specific cause. It must be noted that controlling underlying conditions will not always control kidney damage. The kidneys may become worse, even while help is being provided.
As the first of the “top ten treatments for kidney disease,” this treatment of the underlying cause may be provided for the following problems:
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes, Type I and II
- Glomerulonephritis, inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Vesicoureteral reflux, backing up of urine into the kidneys
- Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, such as from kidney stones, an enlarged prostate or cancers
- Pyelonephritis, a recurrent kidney infection
Treatment of Complications
Treatment of the complications of chronic kidney disease may be provided to make you feel more comfortable. Those treatments may include:
- Medications for high blood pressure
- Cholesterol-lowering medications
- Medications for treatment of anemia, such as through administration of the hormone erythropoietin, which amplifies production of red blood cells
- Reduction of swelling through use of diuretics
- Protection of bones through administration of calcium and vitamin D
- Low-protein diet for minimizing of waste products in the blood
Treatment of End-Stage Kidney Disease
When complications are severe, more drastic treatments may be required. These treatments help the kidneys clear wastes and fluids when they cannot do so on their own. The two primary forms of this treatment are dialysis andorgan transplant.
Dialysis does the work of removing waste and excess fluid from blood when the kidneys can no longer do so on their own. Hemodialysis is use of a machine for this treatment, while peritoneal dialysis involves insertion of a catheter into the abdomen for release of an absorptive fluid. That peritoneal dialysis fluid absorbs waste and other excess liquids, then is drained from the body.
If a kidney transplant is needed, a donor kidney replaces your own diseased kidney. Living or deceased individuals may donate their kidney for such a procedure, to provide lifesaving replacement for the chronic kidney disease patient.
There are other, more conservative, means of treating kidney failure. For those who do not want to endure kidney transplant or dialysis, using these less aggressive means will shorten life expectancy to just a few weeks, if their own kidneys go into complete failure.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
As the last of the top ten treatments for kidney disease, lifestyle and home remedies can provide support to the kidneys and help reduce the amount of work they must perform. By making diet easier on these vital organs, life may be prolonged through slower advancement of the disease.
Such dietary and lifestyle changes may include:
- Lower salt and salt-free foods
- Lower potassium foods
- Lower protein intake