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Treatment Option: Medical Management

What is medical management?

How you treat your kidney failure is your choice. Learning about the options can help you decide which treatment is best for you. If your kidneys fail, you may start dialysis or get a kidney transplant. These types of treatment replace some of the work your kidneys used to do.

You may choose to not start dialysis or not get a kidney transplant. And in some cases, people who start dialysis decide to stop. Supportive care and treatment to manage your symptoms, without doing dialysis or getting a kidney transplant, is called medical management.

How long will I live if I choose
medical management?

How long you will live depends on many things. Some people may live without dialysis or a kidney transplant for a while, but others may not live as long. Your doctor will help you stay as healthy as possible without those treatments.

What else should I think about?

Time-limited trial

If you are not sure whether to start dialysis, ask your doctor about trying dialysis for a set amount of time. You and your doctor will decide on a treatment plan and goals for the trial. At the end of the trial, you can decide with your doctor if dialysis helped you meet your goals and whether you want to continue.


Depression is a common challenge for people with kidney failure, and it can affect your decisions. When you are depressed, you may feel lonely, sad or worthless. You may lose hope. These feelings might be temporary and can often improve with help. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team about how you are feeling before you make the decision to stop or not to start dialysis.


Ask your doctor about hospice care. Most people who choose medical management are able to get hospice care. The goal of hospice care is to keep you comfortable and improve your quality of life while you are dying. Hospice care can:

  • Provide care and help you manage symptoms
  • Help you have the best quality of life possible
  • Offer support for you and your family
  • Take place at your home, nursing home or a hospice center

Additional Resources

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

Coalition for Supportive Care of Kidney Patients:

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