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Chronic Kidney Disease Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • If you have kidney disease, you should be seeing a healthcare provider, who can manage your treatment.
  • Chronic kidney disease can be treated with dietary changes, medication, dialysis, or a kidney transplant.
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Emergency Care

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Go to the ER or call 911 if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden or severe fluid retention in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Sudden decrease in urine or inability to urinate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe weakness or fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Seizures or coma

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All treatments for chronic kidney disease
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Read more about chronic kidney disease care options

When to see a healthcare provider

You should always see a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD), which may include swelling, elevated blood pressure, decreased urine output, fatigue, and muscle weakness. It’s important to start treatment right away to slow the progression of CKD.

Treatment can also help prevent complications of CKD like fluid accumulation, high blood pressure, anemia, electrolyte imbalances, and heart disease.

It’s important to identify and treat underlying health conditions that can cause CKD, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and lupus.

Getting diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will likely order several tests to diagnose CKD and determine the stage of the disease. These may include:

  • Blood tests that measure how well your kidneys are filtering blood
  • Urine tests to check for abnormalities that could signal kidney damage
  • An MRI to look at the size and structure of your kidneys
  • A kidney biopsy—your doctor uses a long, thin needle to take a sample of your kidney tissue for analysis

What to expect from your doctor visit

Treatment options depend on the underlying cause of your CKD and the stage of the disease. They include:

  • Diuretics may be prescribed to treat swelling. People with CKD often retain fluid, causing swelling in the legs and increasing the risk of high blood pressure.
  • If you have high cholesterol, which is common with CKD, you may need to take cholesterol-lowering medications called statins.
  • Blood pressure medication may be prescribed, as many people with CKD have high blood pressure. There are several types of blood pressure medication, including thiazides, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, and beta blockers.
  • Anemia is also common in people with CKD and can be treated with the hormone erythropoietin, which helps produce more red blood cells.
  • If you have advanced CKD, you may need to take phosphorus binders, which reduce levels of phosphorus in the blood.
  • Stage 5 CKD is treated with dialysis, which filters waste and fluid from your blood when your kidneys are no longer able to do it. Dialysis can be performed mechanically (hemodialysis) or chemically (peritoneal dialysis).
  • A kidney transplant may be recommended if you have end-stage kidney disease.

Prescription chronic kidney disease medications

  • Diuretics: chlorthalidone (Thalitone), metolazone (Zaroxolyn), furosemide (Lasix), spironolactone (Aldactone), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ)
  • Statins: atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor), rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors: benazepril (Lotensin), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers: irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan)
  • Calcium channel blockers: amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem), nifedipine (Adalat CC), verapamil (Calan, Verelan)
  • Beta-blockers: atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), nadolol (Corgard), propranolol (Inderal LA, InnoPran XL)
  • Erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs): darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp), epoetin alfa (Epogen)
  • Phosphorus binders: aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel), lanthanum carbonate (Fosrenol), calcium acetate (PhosLo), sevelamer, (Renagel)

Types of kidney disease providers

  • A primary care provider can diagnose CKD and prescribe medication.
  • A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in kidney disorders and usually oversees the care of CKD and manages treatments like dialysis.
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