As I begin to write this article I appreciate how difficult it must be for those diagnosed with kidney failure to understand their condition, research their condition, and find information on kidney failure treatment; because the fact of the matter is at first being given the news “you have kidney failure” there’s not so much as a discussion, but rather a “here are your drugs to take, and I have booked you in for dialysis 3 times a week for the rest of your life”.
The natural reaction would then be to consult Google for the answers you seek, but in your searches you are confronted with a myriad of riddles, or information that is either inaccurate, incomplete, or the opposite – information overload. Leaving you feel completely lost, helpless, and alienated.
You’re Not Alone
Now for someone like me who has had medical training within a naturopathic education, even I find it difficult to wade through all the information out there on the best approach to kidney failure treatment. And if you check out a number of the many great forums on renal/kidney failure, there are countless people, just like you, looking for others to understand where they are coming from, and to get helpful tips for their situation.
Today I wanted to briefly discuss kidney failure treatments that are available to you, and some of the things that you need to know about before commencing treatment. You see the problem with renal failure treatment is that it can be a tricky one to carry out. There are so many individual variables that influence what the best medication, dialysis, etc. to use (including natural medicines). And because of that, it can create a “landmine” scenario; you don’t know what the next interaction or problem could be with the treatment you are receiving. Hopefully this post allows you to avoid this, and keeps you empowered through knowledge.
Kidney Failure Treatment
1. Phosphate Binders
When the kidneys begin to failure, their ability to remove all of the substances that they once could diminishes. Phosphates are one of these substances. Phosphates are an essential nutrient for a healthy body (e.g. strong bones and teeth), but like most things, balance is the key.
When phosphate levels build up within the body (hyperphosphatemia) it can cause both a calcium imbalance – leading to osteoporosis – and a situation where it binds to calcium causing deposits that lodge within various tissues, such as arteries; where it can cause cardiovascular disease and problems. Phosphates are also known to cause the itchiness often experienced with kidney failure.
Even when receiving dialysis phosphates can become a problem, and so doctors will often prescribe phosphate binders to “bind up” the phosphate so it is no longer a problem for you.
The Tip: Not all phosphate binders are created equal. A common prescriptive phosphate binder is aluminium hydroxide, and I hope just the name sets off alarm bells for you. But for those of you who do not know the dangers of aluminium, aluminium is a very toxic heavy metal.
Kidney failure aside, aluminium is a potent neurotoxin and has been implicated in causing conditions such as poor memory, mood disorders, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, as well as bone problems, breast cancer, damage to DNA, oestrogen problems, and generalised symptoms such as chronic fatigue.
2. Antihypertensives (High blood pressure medication)
Is also a very common treatment for those with renal failure. In fact it is a common practice for many doctors to have patients on two antihypertensives at the same time! Nothing like forcing the body to do something, hey?
Anyway, this makes perfect sense as a short term kidney failure treatment. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney disease, only after diabetes, and by reducing the pressure at which the blood passes through your kidneys you instantly reduce the pressure on the kidneys – think about a hose with the water nozzle turned down and the water pressure turned right up… that’s what is happening with those with high blood pressure, and the end result is always the same, the hose bursts at the weakest point.
The other benefit of implementing this short term kidney failure treatment is that you are eliminating a cause of renal failure – that’s only if you have high blood pressure, of course.
The Tip: There are literally hundreds of antihypertensive medications available, but it is difficult to know which type is going to use is going to give you the best possible care. The main types of antihypertensives are: Calcium antagonists, ACE inhibitors, ATI antagonists, and Beta blockers.
Out of these four main groups the medication of choice is ACE inhibitors. These have been proven time and time again to offer the renal-protective effects, while lowering your blood pressure at the same time. You will know if you are already taking an ACE inhibitor if your medication name ends in “-pril”. You want to avoid ‘-pine’, ‘-artan’, and ‘-olol’.
Ask your doctor if you can switch to an ACE inhibitor if you are already on a blood pressure medication to improve your kidney failure treatment.
When the kidneys begin to failure, fluid within the body builds up. Swelling of the arms, legs, hands and feet are all symptoms of this. However it is now well known that most, if not all diuretics actually decrease kidney function (diuretics help the kidneys to eliminate excess fluid). Seems backward I know, but this can be the unfortunate nature of drugs in renal failure treatment.
The Tip: Unfortunately I don’t know any diuretics that I consider to be safe to take long-term for kidney failure treatment, so my main tip for this drug is not to take them where possible, and instead take natural medicines. Checkout my earlier blog post here Renal Failure Edema: The Ultimate Guide where I go in depth to teach you which natural diuretics are best for your condition. As with the theme so far of this post I am not here to say “Run for the hills! Don’t take drugs ever!” but rather, if you need to take a diuretic to quickly relieve fluid retention, then know what you are putting in your mouth first, and discuss with your doctor which one is best for you.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a very useful kidney failure treatment. EPO is a hormone produced in the kidneys that helps the body produce Red Blood Cells (RBC) and hemoglobin. As the kidneys begin to deteriorate EPO products drops off, and therefore EPO injections become extremely helpful for your overall health, and in particular, increasing your energy levels. It is important to note that not everyone will need EPO injections, as production is not always affected, so always have your RBC levels tested first.
The Tip: EPO injections cannot be substituted with any natural medicine, but that doesn’t mean nature cannot boost the production both with and without EPO injections. Through the use of herbs, nutrients, and foods, nature can dramatically improve RBC and hemoglobin production – and they all work perfectly together with EPO injections. Thankfully I have another blog post describing in great detail which natural remedies to take – you can find it here: 5 Ways To Increase Your Hemoglobin Levels Immediately
Now that wraps it up for today! Hopefully this article has taken away a little of the mystery and frustration related to kidney failure treatment, and given you some ideas to implement right away.
As always I look forward to seeing you next time, and I wish you well.
PS. Next time we’re going to look a little deeper at kidney dialysis and kidney transplant as a form of kidney failure treatment. Also if you have anything specific you want me to cover within my next article please send through your requests via the contact us page.
Bye for now!