For most people with mild CKD (stages 1-3) treatment will consist of adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking some medications to control their blood pressure and prevent their kidneys from getting worse.
If your CKD progresses to stage 4-5 you will need to start thinking about the treatment options available for kidney failure.
Read our guide to living with early stage chronic kidney disease (PDF 4Mb)
Choosing the treatment option that's right for you
Health care professionals will continue to support you.
Supportive care refers to treatment without having dialysis or a transplant. It is sometimes called Conservative Management. Some patients choose, after consultation with their kidney team, not to have dialysis as it may not improve survival to any great extent.
What is involved?
The aim of supportive care is to maintain a good quality of life by prolonging kidney function and controlling symptoms. It gives support to patients, their families, and carers. Good planning and communication can help avoid inappropriate hospital admissions.
" I know it was the right decision not to start dialysis. I know the treatment may extend my life by approximately one year possibly two years, but I have had this time with improved quality of life. I am so much happier as a result of the support I am now receiving." Mr J, 84 years
Who is involved?
There will be a number of health care professionals to ensure that you are cared for in a way that suits you and meets your needs.
" In my view the transfer from the normal clinic to the renal palliative care clinic was so smooth. I feel I can ask anything in the renal palliative care clinic. I feel so much happier – the approach of the renal palliative team is so personal and uplifting. I feel closer to the people looking after me. My whole family knows who to contact" Mrs P, 74 years.
The aim of supportive care is
- Preventing and treating any symptoms
- Protecting and maintaining remaining kidney function
- Planning for the future
Planning for the future
This means thinking about how and where you want to be cared for when you become less well and at the end of your life. This might be your own home or a hospice.
Can I make an advance decision about treatment I do not want?
In the United Kingdom you can decide what treatment you do not want if, in the future, you are unable to make decisions yourself. Ask your healthcare team for more information about doing this.
How long will I live?
This varies for each individual. There are many things that affect how long you will live. Your healthcare team will be able to discuss this with you in more detail and will explain the things that can affect this.
Can I change my mind once I have decided not to have dialysis?
Yes. Your healthcare team will support you in any decision you make. However, starting dialysis in an emergency is not as easy as starting it in a planned way.
" The normal process is that I will die one day but the support I have had from the renal palliative care service means that I no longer worry about it. Of course I understand that I cannot be cured of my kidney disease but I am now able to cope with my condition" Mrs W, 79 years.