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Can Kidney Disease Be Successfully Treated?

Many kidney diseases can be treated successfully. Careful control of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent kidney disease or keep it from getting worse. Kidney stones and urinary tract infections can usually be treated successfully. Unfortunately, the exact causes of some kidney diseases are still unknown, and specific treatments are not yet available for them. Sometimes, chronic kidney disease may progress to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation. Treating high blood pressure with special medications called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors often helps to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. A great deal of research is being done to find more effective treatment for all conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease.

How is Kidney Failure Treated?

Kidney failure may be treated with hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplantation. Treatment with hemodialysis (the artificial kidney) may be performed at a dialysis unit or at home. Hemodialysis treatments are usually performed three times a week. Peritoneal dialysis is generally done daily at home. Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis requires the use of a machine while Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis does not. A kidney specialist can explain the different approaches and help individual patients make the best treatment choices for themselves and their families.

Kidney transplants have high success rates. The kidney may come from someone who died or from a living donor who may be a relative, friend or possibly a stranger, who donates a kidney to anyone in need of a transplant.

What Are the Warning Signs of Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease usually affects both kidneys. If the kidneys' ability to filter the blood is seriously damaged by disease, wastes and excess fluid may build up in the body. Although many forms of kidney disease do not produce symptoms until late in the course of the disease, there are six warning signs of kidney disease:

·         High blood pressure.

·         Blood and/or protein in the urine.

·         A creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) blood test, outside the normal range. BUN and creatinine are wastes that build up in your blood when your kidney function is reduced.

·         A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 60. GFR is a measure of kidney function.

·         More frequent urination, particularly at night; difficult or painful urination.

·         Puffiness around eyes, swelling of hands and feet.