How is kidney disease treated?

Treatment of kidney disease varies depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. The goals of treatment are to cure the underlying condition, prevent excessive fluid and waste from accumulating in the body, and stop or slow the progression of damage to the kidneys. Treatment also aims to minimize complications of kidney disease.

General treatment of kidney disease

For all types and causes of kidney disease, treatment plans generally include:

  • Low salt diet

  • Monitoring and control of blood pressure

  • Not smoking or quitting smoking

  • Prompt treatment of bladder infections

  • Regular medical care

  • Weight loss as needed and maintenance of a healthy weight

Other treatments that may be used for kidney disease

Certain types of kidney disease may require one of more of the following treatments:

  • Diets that limit fluids and protein

  • Diuretic medications to help damaged kidneys eliminate fluid

  • Kidney dialysis, which filters waste products from the blood, is used in advanced kidney disease that has lead to kidney failure.

  • Kidney transplant may be an option for some people who have end-stage kidney failure. This major surgical procedure involves using a healthy donor kidney to replace severely damaged kidneys.

  • Medications to balance electrolytes in the body or ensure adequate vitamin levels, especially vitamin D

  • Reduction or elimination of certain medications that can be harmful to the kidneys

Treatment of specific types and causes of kidney disease

Treatment plans also include a multifaceted approach tailored to the specific type and cause of kidney disease and your medical history. For example:

  • Autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues), are treated with medication.

  • Diabetes treatment includes control of blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, medication, and weight reduction as needed.

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) is treated with a low sodium diet, medication, and weight reduction as needed.

  • Intravenous (IV) drugabuse treatment includes abstaining from drugs and participation in a drug rehabilitation treatment program.

  • Kidney cancer is generally treated with removal of part or all of the kidney, and possibly certain medications. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be an option in some cases.

  • Kidney stones are treated with fluids, pain medications, and, if necessary, certain medical procedures, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.

  • Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and septicemia (blood infection) are treated with antibiotics and hospitalization. Treatment of less severe infections that can lead to kidney disease, such as uncomplicated urinary tract infections or impetigo, generally includes antibiotics but not hospitalization.

  • Shock and septicemia (blood infection) are treated with hospitalization, IV fluids and medications, and possibly life support measures.

What are the possible complications of kidney disease?

Kidney diseases and their underlying causes can be serious and even life threatening. You can reduce your risk of serious complications by seeking regular medical care and following the treatment plan your health care professional designs specifically for you.

Complications of kidney disease can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Electrolyte imbalance, including life-threatening high potassium levels
  • Gastrointestinal tract bleeding
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Kidney failure
  • Pleural effusion (fluid buildup around the lungs)
  • Seizure
  • Sepsis (bloodborne infection)
  • Swelling of the extremities


  1. About Chronic Kidney Disease. National Kidney Foundation.
  2. Acute Kidney Failure. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  3. Chronic Kidney Disease. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  4. Kidney Disease. National Kidney Foundation.
  5. Kidney Disease. Lab Tests Online.
  6. Bope ET, Kellerman RD (Eds.) Conn’s Current Therapy. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2013.
  7. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

What is kidney disease?

Kidney disease is a general term that includes any disease, disorder or condition of the kidneys. The kidneys are vital internal organs located in the upper abdomen. Normally people have two bean-shaped kidneys, which form a part of the urinary tract in the genitourinary system.

Healthy kidneys function continuously, and the body’s total blood supply passes through the kidneys sev... Read more about kidney diseaseintroduction


What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

Symptoms of kidney disease vary according to the underlying causes. General symptoms can include:

  • Cloudy or discolored urine

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Dizziness upon attempted standing

What causes kidney disease?

Kidney disease can be caused by a wide variety of underlying diseases, disorders or conditions that lead to kidney damage, such as obstruction, infection, malignancy, inflammation, deformity, toxic ingestion, or a reduced blood supply to the kidneys. Underlying causes include:

  • Diabetes, which can damage the kidneys over time
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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