Kidney care includes the diagnosis, treatment, and management of kidney problems. Your child’s two kidneys, which are about the size of their fists, are located in their lower middle back. Kidneys are responsible for removing wastes and extra water — which become urine — from your child’s blood. Kidney problems — such as such as cancer, cysts, stones, and infections — may leave your child’s kidneys unable to remove wastes and extra water from their body.
Risks and/or side effects depend on the type of kidney care:
- Medicines. The risks and/or side effects of taking medicines depend on the type of medicine and your child’s overall health. The type of medicine used to treat a kidney problem depends on the condition, but may include blood pressure medicine, water tablets, erythropoietin [ih-rith-roh-POI-i-tin] (a hormone treatment that helps increase the number of oxygen-carrying blood cells), iron pills, cholesterol-lowering pills, antibiotics, or other medicines.
- Dialysis [die-AL-uh-sis]. Dialysis is a procedure in which a machine removes wastes from the blood. Dialysis may cause low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, dry or itchy skin, restless leg syndrome, and muscle cramping.
- Surgery (including transplants). Kidney surgery and transplants carry several risks, such as blood clots, bleeding, infection, leaking from the tube linking the kidney to the bladder, failure or rejection of a donated kidney, damage to other organs, and breathing trouble.
Maintaining healthy kidneys is essential to good health. Kidney care improves kidney function and has these general benefits:
- Improved overall health
- More energy
- More freedom to do regular daily activities
- Improved quality of life
Your child’s preparation for kidney care depends on the type of care:
- Medicines. Ask your child’s healthcare provider about benefits, risks, and side effects of your child’s medicine.
- Dialysis. Your child can prepare for dialysis by:
- Wearing comfortable clothes.
- Making the treatment area comfortable.
- Choosing an activity to do. Headphones will need to be worn if your child will be playing a video game, or watching a show.
- Going to the bathroom beforehand.
- Eating before treatment begins.
- Surgery (including transplants). You can help your child prepare for surgery by:
- Letting them know that their condition is not their fault.
- Answering their questions simply and truthfully. However, try not to give them too many details.
- Encouraging them to talk about anything that is worrying them.
- Taking a tour of the clinic or hospital.
- Having them meet and talk to members of their healthcare team.
- Having them tell their friends about the upcoming surgery so the friends can offer support.
- Informing your child all about the procedure.
Kidney treatment is administered in different ways depending on the type of treatment:
- Medicine. Most medicine used for treatment of kidney conditions is given as pills. Sometimes medicine is given with an injection.
- Dialysis. Dialysis can be done in a dialysis unit, a hospital, or at home. You and your doctor will decide which place is best for your child, based on their condition.
- Surgery (including transplants). The way a surgery is done depends on the type of surgery. A kidney transplant is a serious procedure that is done in a hospital. The surgery takes several hours and requires you to stay in a hospital bed for about a day and in the hospital for about a week.
The results of your child’s kidney treatments will be provided by your healthcare provider as the results become available. Your child’s healthcare provider can provide some results on the day of the check-up. Other results can take longer depending on the type of treatment or type of test performed. It may take several weeks or months to know whether or not dialysis treatments or a transplant has been effective.
Kidney treatment follow-up requirements and options depend on the type of your child’s kidney condition and the type of treatment. Your child will have check-ups as often as is needed to safely monitor their kidney health. If your child receives a kidney transplant, they will have regular check-ups, especially during the first year. At first, your child may need blood tests several times a week to monitor kidney health and function. As time goes on, your child will likely require fewer check-ups and tests.
The recovery from kidney treatments depends on the type of treatment:
- Dialysis. Your child’s recovery time after dialysis depends on several things, including your child’s condition, the length and frequency of dialysis treatments, and the type of dialysis. Many dialysis patients continue their regular daily activities during periods of dialysis treatments. Some take time off of school or work as they begin dialysis treatments, but return as soon as they get used to dialysis. Some patients may need several hours to feel back to normal and have their energy return.
- Surgery (including transplants). Recovery from kidney surgery depends on the type of surgery and may take from days to several weeks. If your child requires a kidney transplant, they will need regular check-ups to monitor kidney health and function, and how well the anti-rejection medicines are working. A kidney transplant is a serious surgery and your child will need several weeks to months to fully recover. During that period of time, your child should eat a heart-healthy diet (low fat and low salt) and drink plenty of fluids. A nutrition expert can help you plan meals that are best for your child. Also, anti-rejection medicines increase your child’s risk of infection so you will need to watch for any signs of infection. Have your child see their healthcare provider when infections occur.