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.

Learn more about treatments and medicines related to kidney disease.

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.
Kidney transplant
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.
Medical management
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.

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When you have kidney disease, your kidneys do not make enough of a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO). This can cause a problem called anemia, in which you don't have enough red blood cells. A medicine called an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) can help prevent and treat anemia.
Blood pressure medicine
When your kidneys are not working well, your blood pressure can get too high. This can cause more damage to your kidneys. Your doctor may tell you to take a blood pressure medicine to help you keep a healthy blood pressure.
Phosphate binders
When your kidneys aren't working well, they do not take enough phosphorus out of your blood. Having too much phosphorus in your blood can make your bones weak. Your doctor may tell you to take a medicine called a phosphate binder to help your body get rid of extra phosphorus.
Potassium binders
When your kidneys aren't working well, they don't take enough potassium out of your blood. Too much potassium in your blood can cause problems with your heart and other muscles. Your doctor might tell you to take a medicine called a potassium binder to help your body get rid of extra potassium.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Your kidneys help your body keep the right amounts of vitamins and minerals in your blood. When your kidneys aren't working well, you can have too much or too little calcium and vitamin D in your body. If you have too little, your doctor may tell you to take calcium or vitamin D supplements.
Iron supplements
Another cause of anemia (not having enough red blood cells) is not having enough iron in your blood. If your doctor thinks you have anemia that is caused by not having enough iron, you may need to take an iron supplement. You can take iron pills or have iron put into your blood stream using a shot or during your dialysis treatment.
Ask your doctor if you ever have any questions about your medicines.
Never stop taking your medicines unless your doctor tells you to.