Parents of kids who are diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease have many questions about what might happen next, how their child might feel, and what treatments are likely to be involved.
Four major areas of concern are blood pressure, diet, anemia (low red blood cell count), and growth. Kids may feel sick at times, need to take medicines, and watch what they eat and drink. Read on to learn about treatments for kidney disease and what parents can do to help.
Treating Kidney Diseases
Treatment begins with diet modification and medicines. Your child may need to take several medicines, including vitamins, calcium, bicarbonate, and blood pressure pills. As a result, medication management can be a major challenge.
If your child has difficulty remembering to take medications, consider getting a medicine clock, which has two cardboard clocks — one for each 12-hour period — with a picture of the medicines posted on the the times they need to be taken. These clocks can provide valuable cues for kids who need to take several doses of different medicines throughout the day and evening. Also, alarm watches can be set to remind kids to take their medicine.
If your child must take so much medicine that it affects his or her appetite, contact your doctor for advice. Try to find the most acceptable forms of medicine (smaller pills, capsules, or more concentrated liquids, for example) and simplify the medication schedule under your doctor's guidance.
Newer injectable medicines are available for treatment of anemia and growth failure in some kids with chronic kidney disease. Erythropoetin can increase the red blood cell count, which often improves energy and activity levels in kids with kidney failure. Recent studies have shown that many kids with chronic kidney disease will grow more normally with the help of human growth hormone injections.
Children with chronic kidney failure may not have any symptoms until about 80% of their kidney function is lost. Then, they may feel tired, have nausea or vomiting, have difficulty concentrating, or experience confusion. Accumulated fluid appears as swelling in the skin, fluid congestion in the lungs, and high blood pressure. At this stage, two treatment options are available — dialysis and transplant.