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Conservative Management for Kidney Disease

What Is Conservative Management for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

If you have CKD and are nearing kidney failure, your kidney doctor will discuss treatments like dialysis and kidney transplant. If your doctor thinks those treatments won't be right for you, they may suggest conservative management.

Conservative management focuses on treating the symptoms of your kidney disease.

The goal of care is to increase your comfort and prolong your life while avoiding more difficult treatments like dialysis or transplant.

This treatment option is vital for people who may not benefit from dialysis or transplant.

This includes those who are elderly and frail. It also includes people with other serious illnesses such as cancer, advanced heart disease, or advanced lung disease.

Conservative management may be right for you.

Before you decide, talk to your kidney doctor about your treatment goals and how you want to live your life.

What Are the Benefits of Conservative Management?

For many people, dialysis may allow them to lead longer, healthier lives. But it can also be painful and time-consuming.

Conservative management can help you by:

  • Focusing on your quality of life. Medicine will focus on your comfort and mental health.
  • Improving how you spend your time. Our goal is to keep you out of the medical setting as much as possible. This lets you can spend more time at home with friends and family.
  • Supporting your caregivers. We also focus on helping your caregivers know your treatment goals and access the mental health care they need.

What to Expect During Conservative Management Treatment for CKD

First, you'll work with your kidney doctor to design a treatment plan that improves your quality of life.

Your doctor will start by asking how you feel.

Be ready to tell your doctor about:

  • Physical sensations like pain, itchiness, fatigue, or headaches.
  • Mental symptoms like problems focusing.
  • Emotional issues like depression or stress.
  • Concerns about your caregivers, including their stress levels.
  • Concerns about your treatment plan.
  • Your treatment goals and how you want to live your life.

Our doctors at the UPMC Renal Supportive Care Clinic are world-renowned in the conservative management of CKD. Trained in nephrology and palliative care, they can meet a complex set of personal goals.

Expect treatments like:

  • Lifestyle and diet changes that help ease your symptoms.
  • Medicines to treat your symptoms, rather than your kidney function. Some drugs that are common for treating CKD might not be right for you.
  • Support services like mental health and home palliative care.
  • Advance care planning so that your family and your doctors know your wishes.
  • Crisis counseling for your caregivers, so they can meet your goals and advocate for your wishes when symptoms become more severe.

Contact Us About Conservative Management for CKD