Kidney Disease and Your Treatment Options

While there is no cure for kidney disease, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to slow its progression, and effective treatment options available to manage the condition.

What is kidney disease?

Kidney disease is characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function. “When the kidneys are damaged and stop working as they should, high levels of waste build up,” shares Keri Lease, RN, manager at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital Dialysis Center.  As a result, excess fluid and waste from the blood remain in the body and may cause other problems such as heart disease and stroke.

“Kidney disease has varying levels of seriousness,” explains Amy Bowser, RN, manager at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital Dialysis Center. “It usually gets worse over time, though treatment has been shown to slow progress. If left untreated it can progress to kidney failure and early cardiovascular disease.”

What are the symptoms?

There are often no symptoms in the early stages of kidney disease. However, as kidney function decreases over time, additional symptoms present themselves. Common symptoms of chronic kidney disease include nausea, loss of appetite, changes in urination, muscle cramping, fatigue, swelling in the legs, feet and hands, trouble sleeping, high blood pressure and decreased mental sharpness.

What are the risk factors?

Risk factors for developing kidney disease include family history, obesity and other conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers can also contribute to kidney damage over time.

“To lower your risk of developing kidney disease, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, use over-the-counter pain medications correctly and manage any other existing conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, as recommended by your provider,” Lease shares.

What treatment options are available?

Treatment options for kidney disease range based on the stage of the disease. In the beginning stages, conservative management options such as lifestyle changes such as exercising daily and eating healthy can be very effective in slowing the progression of the disease. Controlling any disease-related or preexisting medical conditions is also very important to managing kidney disease, so your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage these conditions.

“Conservative management practices can help manage symptoms and preserve kidney function and quality of life for as long as possible,” shares Bowser. “When the kidneys stop working, dialysis or kidney transplant is necessary for survival.”


There are two types of dialysis available: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

“Hemodialysis uses a machine to move your blood through a filter outside of your body that removes wastes,” Bowser shares. “Whereas peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your peritoneum (the membrane lining your stomach) to filter your blood inside your body.”

At ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital Dialysis Center, experts utilize hemodialysis to help patients we help patients manage their kidney disease.

Hemodialysis utilizes a machine that acts as your kidney by filtering blood to remove harmful wastes and excess fluid. “This helps control blood pressure and maintain a healthy balance of fluids and minerals in your blood,” Lease shares.

Hemodialysis requires a strict treatment schedule with treatments occurring three to four days a week, for three to four hours per treatment. While this is a serious time commitment, Lease reminds patients that dialysis can be a key factor in helping them continue to live life to the fullest as they continue to live with kidney disease. Hemodialysis may also be done at home if the patient meets the necessary requirements.

“Many patients who follow their treatment plan experience more energy, better sleep and less cramping and headaches,” Lease explains. “Hemodialysis can be a valuable tool in helping patients feel the best that they can while they are managing kidney disease.”

Learn more about dialysis and tips to coping with the treatment.