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janbb's avatar

Do you have any experience with kidney failure and its treatment?

Asked by janbb (42850 points ) January 4th, 2010

My MIL is in her 80s. She had one kidney removed over 30 years ago. Her remaining kidney is now failing and she is being admitted to hospital today. I don’t need websites or medical references; I can research on my own. Just wanted to hear from anyone with relevant experience. What was the recommended treatment? The prognosis? Was there much pain and suffering?

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9 Answers

shilolo's avatar

Treatment of kidney failure in an 80 year old is tough. Depending on the severity of the renal failure, it could be simply providing diuretics and other drugs to help stave off complete renal failure. However, if her one remaining kidney has essentially failed completely, the only remaining treatment is dialysis. Without dialysis, the prognosis is death (within a few days to weeks, depending on how far along things are), typically from a build-up of potassium and eventual cardiac arrest. There is no pain or suffering from kidney failure except perhaps some itching from the build up of toxins. When people die from kidney failure, they tend to drift off into a coma, and then subsequently die from the cardiac arrest.
Now, as far as dialysis is concerned, this is a serious issue that she needs to consider. You are essentially hooked up to a machine for 4 hours a day, 3 days a week. There are complications depending on the type of dialysis access used (i.e. where are the needles placed), but people can survive for a long time on dialysis.
Sorry to hear about your MIL (and if I was too blunt). But, those are the facts. Best wishes.

janbb's avatar

Thanks so much, shi! Not too blunt, I wanted to know what we’re looking at.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

I must disagree with @shilolo. My kidneys failed several months ago and I was in a lot of pain. Only when I moved but it was still pain. By the time I was taken to the hospital I was near comatose. The only thing waking me up was the pain of movement.

I was in the hospital for several days. My treatment was dialysis, liquid diet and a catheter. Luckily my kidneys, bladder, and everything else survived. I’m sorry about your MIL and I wish you and your family much luck.

janbb's avatar

@SarasWhimsy Thanks – glad you’re doing better now.

shilolo's avatar

@SarasWhimsy It sounds like your kidney failure was due to an obstruction which likely led to hydronephrosis (or swelling of the kidneys). Indeed, that can be painful (as can the obstruction i.e. kidney stones). However, direct kidney failure is rarely painful.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

@shilolo I have no idea what caused it. I went in for minor surgery and within 48 hours I almost lost my life. Personally, I think they gave me too many pain meds.

shilolo's avatar

@SarasWhimsy Yeah, maybe it was medication related, but probably not pain meds. Some medications can cause you to have an inability to urinate, which, if left alone for too long can lead to kidney failure.

filmfann's avatar

dialysis is boring, and a major pain. Placement of a shunt for the dialysis lead to my sister-in-law having a stroke, and a bloodclot, which ended up with the removal of her right arm.
My prayers are with your family.

shilolo's avatar

@filmfann Dialysis most certainly is filled with complications, but there exists no easy alternative short of kidney transplant. I mean, before dialysis existed, doctors simply watched patients die of kidney failure.

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