The kidneys are among the most productive and vital organs in our bodies. But when you’re faced with kidney failure, you may wonder which solution is right for you –– a kidney transplant or kidney dialysis.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine and behind the upper abdominal organs perform many important functions, including:

  • Filtering the blood of waste products to prevent them from becoming toxic
  • Flushing excess fluid that can pool around the heart and lungs
  • Returning nutrients to the bloodstream
  • Contributing to the regulation of blood pressure
  • Preventing anemia by creating a substance that fuels red blood cell production

When the kidneys fail, they lose their ability to remove waste products from the body. The resulting build-up of toxins may cause symptoms, such as:

  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy and confusion

The above symptoms may be related to some of the most common causes of kidney failure, like:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney stones
  • Inherited kidney disease
  • Inflammatory disease of the nephrons and glomeruli
  • Side effects of drug therapy for other diseases

Kidney transplant or kidney dialysis?

The two main treatment options for kidney failure are transplant surgery or dialysis.

Kidney transplant

Kidney transplantation is considered the preferred treatment for most people with end stage renal disease (ESRD), no matter the cause of kidney failure. However, a kidney transplant may not be an option for people with other medical problems, including:

  • Significant cardiovascular disease
  • Active malignancy or history of cancer within the last five years
  • Alcohol and drug dependency or abuse
  • Untreated mental disorders
  • Obesity
  • Severe liver or lung disease
  • Active infection

Many people report that kidney transplants provide a better quality of life than dialysis. A successfully transplanted, healthy kidney can result in greater freedom and more energy with less dietary restrictions.

Kidney dialysis

Kidney dialysis is a readily accessible treatment for kidney failure until a new kidney is available. Dialysis is necessary to maintain kidney function for the remainder of your life or until you can receive a kidney transplant. Dialysis keeps the body in balance by:

  • Removing waste, salt and excess water to prevent them from building up in the body
  • Maintaining safe levels of chemicals such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate in the blood
  • Helping to control blood pressure

Dialysis requires a lifestyle adjustment, as your schedule may require daily treatments at a hospital, dialysis center or at home. You may have dietary restrictions and be encouraged to limit alcohol intake. But most people live “normal” lives; feeling better because of the treatments, being able to work, travel and socialize.

At South Texas Renal Care Group in San Antonio, our board-certified physicians are dedicated to providing comprehensive care, including clinical trials, for all forms of kidney disease.

If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of kidney failure, or managing one of its cause-related conditions, call 210-212-8622 to request an appointment today.