Our kidneys essentially act as filters, removing unwanted substances from our blood system. McLeod Kidney Specialist M. Adnan Alsaka, MD, explains what happens when your kidney isn’t working and how that problem is treated.
Here are the main points from Dr. Alsaka’s comments:
The kidney’s main function is to eliminate the waste product and clean the blood, as well as continuously regulating blood pressure.
Unfortunately, kidney disease is one of the most common diseases in the area. In fact, a large portion of the nation’s Medicare budget goes to pay for kidney disease and treatment. Across the U.S. we have more than 650,000 dialysis patients nationwide and that number is increasing by 5 percent every year.
Most kidney disease is discovered during a routine visit with a person’s primary care physician that involves blood work and urine tests. When these test results are abnormal, you will promptly be referred to a nephrologist, a specialist in kidney disease and treatment.
Diet is very important for the kidney disease patient. If the kidney is too weak to eliminate waste products (because the sodium chloride, potassium or phosphorous intake is too high), the kidney will not be able to properly do its job. Eventually, unfiltered waste products and electrolytes pass into the patient’s bloodstream. To help kidneys do their job, we need to eliminate waste products — such as the potassium, sodium and phosphorous.
We encourage our kidney patients to lose weight and decrease their body mass index. We want the patient to follow a healthy diet that’s low in sodium, cut out high cholesterol fast food, quit smoking and eliminate alcohol use.
The treatment options for kidney disease include medications, along with diet and lifestyle modifications. If medication does not help, then we can turn to hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis(using the abdomen’s membrane) or, ultimately, a kidney transplant.
Hemodialysis is the process of cleaning the blood artificially with a machine, filter and fluid. It’s an incredible process and the most common procedure performed in the hospitals. A patient’s blood goes through the machine. Waste is filtered out. And the clean blood flows back into the patient. It can be done three days a week at a dialysis center or can even be performed at home.
Kidney transplant represents the ultimate goal for every kidney disease and dialysis patient. Survival is much higher with a transplant rather than ongoing dialysis and, with a transplant, the patient returns to life socially and professionally. However, to be eligible for a transplant, the patient must closely follow the diet and other lifestyle guidelines. The reason a kidney transplant is the dream of nearly every dialysis patient, because the success rate of kidney transplant is now more than 95 percent.