Reversing Kidney Damage

By M. Gideon Hoyle

Kidney damage is a general term used to describe any degradation in kidney function. It can result from a host of conditions or injuries, including diabetes, infection, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, kidney stones, transfusion complications and autoimmune disease. While some forms of kidney damage are reversible if caught in time, others are long-term and progressive, and can be slowed but not cured.

Diagnosing and Reversing Acute Kidney Failure

Acute kidney failure is a condition that is commonly reversible if treated properly. The term covers any sudden loss in the kidneys’ ability to remove waste material from the bloodstream or create urine. Symptoms of acute kidney failure include fluid retention and swelling, a decrease or complete stoppage in urine output, high blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, bloody stools, seizures, sluggish movements and changes in mental function. If you experience any of these signs, seek medical attention immediately.

Before attempting to reverse your kidney failure, your doctors must first diagnose and control its underlying cause. Once this process is under way, they will assess your kidney function and move to restore it to its normal range. In order to protect your kidneys from further buildup of fluid and blood wastes, you will be placed on a diet that restricts fluid intake. You will also likely need to avoid foods that are high in protein, potassium and salt, and increase your intake of carbohydrates. In order to avoid excess potassium buildup, you may be given sodium polystyrene sulfate (Kayexalate), glucose or calcium.

In many cases, your kidneys will be temporarily unable to perform their job without more direct assistance. If this is the case, you will need to undergo dialysis, or mechanical cleansing of the toxins in your blood. In a typical dialysis procedure, blood is gradually transferred from your body to a machine designed to mimic kidney function, and then back into your body. By bypassing your kidneys in this manner, your doctors will give them time to heal and return to normal operation. While chronic, or progressive, kidney disease sometimes develops from acute failure, proper treatment is usually effective in restoring kidney function in a period of weeks or months.

Understanding and Treating Chronic Kidney Failure

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, chronic kidney failure and its related complications afflict roughly one in every 500 Americans, and most commonly result from diabetes and high blood pressure. Unlike acute failure, with its obvious external signs, chronic failure typically builds up slowly over time and initially presents no symptoms. However, internal damage gradually increases, and the vast majority of kidney function may be permanently compromised before the disease is uncovered.

If you are diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, a reversal of your condition is typically not possible. Treatment centers around attempts to limit the advance of your disease and prevent further kidney damage. In addition to the dialysis and diet restrictions used for acute failure, you may require blood transfusions or other medical intervention to avoid complications from anemia. Consult your doctors for a full explanation of treatments for chronic kidney failure.

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