Your kidneys are vital organs. This means that you cannot survive without them. When your kidneys don't work the way they should, they allow waste and water to flow back into your blood stream instead of sending them out through your urine. This causes waste and water to build up in your body.
Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis uses a machine to clean your blood. This type of dialysis can be done at a dialysis center or in a clean room in your home. Hemodialysis that is done in a dialysis center is called in-center hemodialysis, and it is the most common treatment for kidney failure. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdomen (belly area), called your peritoneum, as a filter to clean your blood. This type of dialysis can be done anywhere that is clean and dry.
A kidney transplant is a surgery to give you a healthy kidney from someone else's body. Your new kidney can come from someone who is alive or someone who has just died. A kidney that comes from someone who has just died is called a deceased donor kidney. A living donor kidney is one that comes from someone who is still alive. There is a very long waiting list for deceased donor kidneys in the U.S., and there are not enough deceased donor kidneys for everyone to get one. If you have a living kidney donor who wants to give you a healthy kidney, you may be able to have your kidney transplant sooner.
Some people decide that they do not want to have dialysis or a kidney transplant. If you do not want to receive treatment for your kidney failure, you might consider medical management. Medical management is a way to treat the symptoms of kidney failure to help you live comfortable until your body can no longer function. It is important to understand that medical management is not a treatment for kidney failure and it will not keep you alive.
Nephrologists treat conditions that involve or impact the kidneys, both directly and indirectly.
Some common conditions a nephrologist treats or helps treat include: