When Your Loved One Has Kidney Disease: What You Should Know

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When your loved one goes in to the doctor for a check-up or because they just weren't feeling well, you would never expect them to come home with a kidney disease diagnosis. However, when it does happen, you are likely caught completely off-guard. Before you panic and cause your loved one more distress and worry, get to know more of the facts about kidney disease, the treatment options available, and what you can expect for your loved one and their health going forward. Then, you will be able to provide them with the support and care they need in dealing with this chronic illness.

What Is Kidney Disease?

In order to be supportive, it helps to understand what kidney disease is. Kidney disease, or chronic kidney disease, is a progressive health disorder that occurs over a long period of time. It is characterized by the progressive (increasingly worse) deterioration of kidney function. The kidneys filter the blood in the body to remove toxins from the blood and send them to be excreted from the body in urine.

When the kidney cells become diseased, they shut down. Each kidney cell (nephron) that shuts down places more pressure on the remaining healthy cells to pick up the slack and more of those cells shut down. This domino effect can be slowed and/or stopped with proper treatment, though. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Disease?

When your loved one went in to the doctor they may not have been experiencing any particularly noticeable symptoms or they may have gone in to see their doctor for one of the symptoms that they assumed was the flu or some other acute illness. As a person begins to notice symptoms of kidney disease, they may experience fatigue or exhaustion, less frequent urination and in lower quantities, nausea and headaches, and may also have a metallic taste in their mouth or feel constantly itchy. 

What Are The Treatment Options For Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease in the early stages can often be treated through prescription medications and lifestyle changes. The amount of sodium that your loved one consumes will be extremely important as too much sodium can cause the kidneys to have to work too hard. Liquids will also need to be regulated to keep the kidneys functioning at an even level. Be sure to help your loved one stick to their diet and regulate their fluids when you are with them to ensure their kidney disease does not continue to progress. 

Unfortunately, by the time kidney disease is noticeable, it can be quite advanced. As such, an IV therapy known as dialysis is a common treatment for advanced chronic kidney disease or complete kidney failure. Dialysis uses intravenous needles to systematically remove all of the blood from the body and to clean the blood as the kidneys are designed to do.

This treatment needs to continue at regular intervals for patients with limited or no kidney function either indefinitely or until the patient can get a kidney transplant. Dialysis can be quite boring and exhausting at the same time. Because of this, you may want to go to dialysis appointments with your loved one as much as possible to help them through it and keep them from feeling discouraged. Distracting them while the IV is inserted and keeping them engaged in conversation can help pass the time, and just knowing that they have someone there who cares about them (and who will help them get home afterwards) can make all the difference in the world. 

Now that you know more about kidney disease and its treatments, you will be better able to help your loved one deal with their newfound chronic illness. So, keep these facts in mind and be sure to support them in every way you can, whether it be through encouraging them to stick to healthy lifestyle changes or taking them to dialysis and sitting with them. Click here to learn more about IV therapy.