Treatment Options for Kidney Failure

Dialysis and kidney transplantation are the two primary treatments for kidney failure. Medications can assist in controlling problems and symptoms. Every therapeutic modality has advantages and disadvantages.

Your kidneys can't filter blood as well as healthy kidneys can if you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). According to estimates from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 37 million Americans—roughly 15% of the country's population—have chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The final stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD), known as kidney failure, occurs when kidney function falls to less than 15% of normal. It could also be referred to as end-stage renal disease.

To find out more about your treatment choices for renal failure, continue reading.

Hemodialysis for kidney failure

Hemodialysis is a procedure where a machine assists in removing extra fluid and waste from your blood. Your blood pressure and mineral levels can be controlled with the use of this medication.

You will have a little surgery to create an access point, or opening, in a blood artery, usually in your arm, before beginning hemodialysis. This makes it simple to remove blood from your body and put it back during dialysis.

Your blood is extracted from your body and sent through a filter known as a dialyzer by the machine during dialysis. The freshly filtered blood is then given back to your body by the machine.

Hemodialysis usually takes place three times a week, lasting roughly four hours each time. You have the option of receiving dialysis at home or in a facility.

If your blood pressure is unstable or you have difficult access to your bloodstream, you might not be able to receive hemodialysis.

Hemodialysis risks and side effects can include:
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • itchy skin
  • low blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • muscle cramping
  • infections
  • blockage at the access site

Peritoneal dialysis for kidney failure

In contrast to using a machine, peritoneal dialysis filters blood inside your body. It employs the peritoneum, the tissue that borders your abdominal cavity, as a filter. Dialysis of this kind is done at your house.

Initially, a small operation will be performed to insert a catheter—a flexible tube—into your abdomen. This tube gradually fills your belly with a dialysis solution, which is primarily composed of salt and water, during therapy.

Your blood is helped to remove waste and extra fluid as it passes through this area. The fluid exits your body through the catheter after a few hours.

You will not be eligible for peritoneal dialysis if you have an illness that affects the anatomy of your abdominal cavity, such as a hernia, adhesion, or fistula. Additionally, if you have inflammatory bowel disease or are extremely obese, your doctor might not advise you to take it.

Peritoneal dialysis risks and side effects can include:
  • fatigue
  • infection
  • hernia
  • itching
  • weight gain

Kidney transplant for kidney failure

A healthy donor kidney is implanted into your body by a surgical team during a kidney transplant procedure. One kidney is all you need to survive, and it takes up the role of filtering your blood.

A kidney transplant is a major surgical procedure that may be physically taxing. Additionally, to reduce the possibility of your immune system rejecting your new kidney, you will need to keep taking immunosuppressive medications following your surgery.

For these reasons, you might not be able to receive a kidney transplant if you're older or have any major medical issues. Furthermore, a kidney transplant may not be advised by a physician if you:
  • cancer or a current infection
  • serious lung or cardiovascular conditions
  • severe obesity
  • a high chance of blood clots
You'll probably be added to a waiting list if you qualify for a kidney transplant. Four to five-year wait times are typical. Dialysis will be used to treat your kidney failure while you await your transplant.

Following a kidney transplant, the following risks and adverse effects are possible:
  • bleeding
  • infections
  • blood clots
  • urine leakage into your abdomen
  • cardiovascular disease
  • obstruction of the ureter, the tube that travels from your new kidney to your bladder to collect urine
  • adverse effects of immunosuppressive medication use
  • malignancies like Kaposi sarcoma and melanoma
  • rejection of the transplanted kidney

Medications for kidney failure

Renal failure cannot be directly treated with medication. Nonetheless, several drugs may be able to help control kidney failure's symptoms and side effects.

Drugs that physicians might suggest include:
  • drugs that reduce blood pressure
  • Medications for diabetes if you have the condition
  • Using statins if your cholesterol is high
  • diuretics to aid in the retention of fluid
  • drugs that, in the event of anaemia, stimulate the production of red blood cells in the body
  • supplementing with vitamin D to support bone health
  • supplementing with bicarbonate for metabolic acidosis
  • phosphate binders help reduce your body's phosphorus levels
Some renal failure patients may decide to treat their illness only with food and medicine. We refer to this as prudent management.

How can I prevent kidney failure?

If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you can lower your risk of kidney failure by:
  • maintaining a nutritious but kidney-friendly diet, which can entail reducing certain nutrients like:
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • salt (sodium)
  • protein
  • exercising regularly
  • controlling your weight
  • Reducing or giving up alcohol
  • If you smoke, give it up.
  • following prescription instructions for any necessary drugs, such as those for diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Steer clear of substances that might damage your kidneys, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • scheduling routine follow-up visits with your healthcare team


What are 3 kidney failure treatments?

While medication can be used to address many of the problems of renal failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant are the only ways to remove waste from the blood. You might want to think about getting end-of-life care, or hospice, as your kidney function deteriorates.

Can a person with kidney failure survive?

Kidney failure is deadly if dialysis or a kidney transplant are not received. Without medical attention, you might live for a few days or weeks. The typical life expectancy for dialysis patients is five to ten years. On dialysis, some patients can live for up to 30 years.

Can kidney disease be cured?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has no known cure, however, medication can help manage symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse. The course of your CKD will determine how you will be treated. The primary interventions consist of modifying one's lifestyle to maintain optimal health.


When your kidneys are unable to filter waste and extra fluid, kidney failure occurs. It is the terminal phase of CKD.

The two primary forms of treatment for renal failure are dialysis and kidney transplantation. Conservative management, which only includes medication and dietary adjustments, may be chosen by certain individuals.

Every renal failure treatment has advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a course of treatment for renal failure, make sure to go over these with your healthcare provider.

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