Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Reverse Failed Kidney Function, Even While On Dialysis

Do you or someone you love suffer from kidney failure? The process can be a nightmare due to the limited treatment options available. Dialysis is very painful and can have fatal side effects from the constant handling of blood. Kidney transplants are not guaranteed and waiting for a match can take years. So what can a person in this situation do in order to be able to live a half-way decent life? This article will discuss what kidney disease is, how diet plays a major role in preserving kidney health, and safe scientific alternatives that are available now that were not offered to people in the past. Even if you are on dialysis, there are ways in which you can increase your natural kidney function to healthy levels and enjoy a better quality of life without changing your current treatment plan.

What is Kidney Disease?

First off, lets talk about the kidneys and their function. Everyone is born with two kidneys and they are located just above the waist on both sides of the spine. Their function is to cleanse the blood by removing waste and excess fluid from the body – very similar to what a washing machine does for clothes. When the body is in proper condition and the kidneys are healthy, they can eliminate toxins and wastes through the blood and urine. But if there is a problem with the elimination process and the toxins or excess fluid start to build up, the kidneys can become damaged and if left untreated they can stop working altogether. There are two types of kidney disease: acute and chronic. Acute kidney disease is usually temporary and can be due to a traumatic injury, low blood flow to the kidneys, pregnancy complications, infection or severe dehydration. Chronic kidney failure is more long-term. It can be caused by type 1 and 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Keep in mind that some people can have both diabetes and high blood pressure at the same time while in renal failure and for those individuals the road to recovery is quite grueling. With diabetes alone, the body requires drinking more fluids and more trips to the bathroom. But when kidney disease is present, you are limited to the amount of fluid you can have so for those with diabetes its a little harder due to swelling in the body which must be removed.

Dialysis – The Only Option?

When the kidneys are no longer able to remove enough fluid and waste products from the body, dialysis is required. Sometimes in the case of an acute situation this is only short-term and the kidneys resume their natural function. But in chronic cases, when you get to the fifth stage of this disease, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to prolong life. This is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). But now doctors, dietitians and scientists have begun to understand how important a role diet is playing to reverse kidney disease before and in some instances, even after it gets to this stage.

The Role of Our Diet Can Reverse Kidney Disease

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables have always played an important role in having a healthy lifestyle to promote long life. In the case of renal disease, it is no exception. However, if your diet is high in alkaline acids, it really won't make much of a difference because your kidneys cannot eliminate this type of acid over a long period of time. There needs to be a proper balance of fresh water, fruits, vegetables, high fiber and according to a John Hopkins University study, very low protein intake.

But before you begin to make any changes to your diet talk with your doctor first. Not all kidney disease is reversible, as in the case of a total removal of the kidneys. But if your diagnosis is such where you can benefit from a healthy diet which will enable you to enjoy a lifestyle free from the chronic illness and pain of kidney failure, you owe it to yourself to do as much as you can before it gets too late.

Nineteen Years of Kidney Disease

I have the pleasure of knowing an incredible individual who has been dealing with kidney disease for almost two decades. Jonathan has gone through over seventy surgeries which began at age twenty-eight. While some look at him as a walking miracle of God, others find themselves scratching their heads in wonder as to how someone could go through what this young man has gone through and still be alive. He often wonders the same thing at times, but he knows that if it had not been for God's grace in his life, he would not be able to give testimony to all of the beautiful things he has been able to do in spite of his illness. Kidney disease or renal failure as it is sometimes called is not an easy condition to live with. There are several causes of this disease-high blood pressure, diabetes or genetics. For my friend it was high blood pressure that brought about his kidney failure and if this can help anyone going through the same thing then, as he says often, his life has been well lived.

In the Beginning

For an active young man gifted in martial arts and working in a profession he truly excelled in, illness was the last thing on his mind. His symptoms began much like the flu, but with a decrease in urine output. Jonathan thought that it was something that would pass, so he didn't see about these changes right away. It wasn't until he started to retain fluid in his chest so badly that he could not breathe that caused him to go to the emergency room one Sunday afternoon. Once admitted to the hospital, the renal doctor told him that he had never seen so much poison in a live body and that if he made it through the night, they would start dialysis first thing in the morning. Not only did he lose his kidney function that day, he also lost his father. Alone and scared Jonathan turned to the Source of his strength but he had been away from church for a while. He remembered the Christian teachings of his grandmother who taught him and his brothers and sister to always rely on God no matter what circumstances they might find themselves in. And so began his journey on the long road to recovery and his personal walk with God.

Dialysis – What Would We Do Without It

Most people who go through renal failure require dialysis. Dialysis is a process through which a machine is used to remove toxins and wastes from the body through the blood just like the kidneys. Once the blood is cleaned, it is returned to the body. This process has allowed many individuals to live longer productive lives when long ago the alternative was horrible suffering before death. When a renal patient first starts dialysis, a catheter is inserted surgically in the body and is connected to an artery and vein. There is also the need for some type of access to continue dialysis, as the catheter is only temporary and will not cleanse the blood effectively the way a graph or fistula can. For almost two years this was how Jonathan's body was able to remove wastes and he did this three times a week until he was called to receive a kidney.

The Kidney Transplant

When Jonathan received his transplanted kidney he said that he felt almost close to normal, something that he hadn't felt in a long time. A kidney transplant allows a recipient to live a life free from the dialysis machine. There is a waiting list for compatibility, but many people are able to find a close relative to donate the needed kidney and that process works a little faster. Before Jonathan received his new kidney, he had already undergone close to twenty-five surgical procedures. These were mostly to unclog his graphs and place new catheters while the graph sites healed. By this time, he had used both arms in order to get access for dialysis.

Jonathan's transplant lasted five years until the birth of his daughter and that's when he had to go back on dialysis. He has been on the machine for the last twelve years and has been in and out of the hospital so many times that its too numerous to count. He counts his blessings daily and has been able to meet some of the most amazing people who say he is a constant source of encouragement in their lives. I can tell you from personal experience that he has truly touched my life in ways that I will always be eternally grateful. He never focuses on his illness. Instead, his focus is on Christ who he says had suffered much more than what he's going through. He credits Christ for the strength to endure the pain, long hospital stays and caring people who are always there for him when he needs them to be.