Tips On How To Treat Children With Kidney Disease: A Parental Approach

Many children are diagnosed with some degree of kidney disease every day. Given the nature of this disease, as depicted in previous articles by Joe Cosgrove, it is quite hard for parents to digest such complication when kids are the ones affected. Their concerns about the whole thing are no less than legitimate; and feelings such as stress easily tend to appear; however, it is quite normal. When it comes to children suffering from chronic kidney disease, parents are somewhat forced to accept such reality without hesitation; nonetheless, they can also develop a practical way to cope with the daily complications and the very nature of the disease. The following words of advice were developed in hopes of providing families with helpful elements so that they can keep moving forward irrespective of the nature of their kid’s disease:

Get Familiar With What The Disease Is About

Learning about the disease, getting acquainted with the complication and its possible treatments is key. The basic word of advice would be: learn as much as possible about the disease and how it has been treated. Moreover, it is of high importance to convey this information to children: they actually understand a lot—and they are more receptive than the vast majority of adults.

Aside from the aforementioned idea, parents should spare no efforts in encouraging their children to ask questions to their doctors and nurses and pretty much every other health professional involved in the treatment. There is a myriad of aspects parents can learn from this, as they often abstain themselves from asking some questions just because they think they sound somewhat dumb. Having children ask whatever comes to their minds embodies a source of information and ideas that often go unnoticed by both parents and physicians.

In that sense, kids should not be given more than what they can handle and understand. This does not suggest, however, that parents should lie to their children. Be clear about the procedures and the treatments they are about to undergo. Therefore, try to help children understand that all the people—doctors, nurses, dietitians, nephrologists, social workers, etc.—are on their side. That all they want is to help them get better and healthier, even if it involves nagging treatments that may cause a certain degree of discomfort.

Be Proactive And Get Involved In the Kid’s Care

As a parent, it is not easy to see children suffer. Most parents tend to engage in pointless discussions with health professionals simply because they refuse to accept reality and the nature of the treatments that should be followed. Parents, the vast majority of times, are led by emotions—and all they want is for their children to get healthier. Thus, in order to more easily achieve the latter, parents should develop a sense of respect and cooperation with physicians. A good idea is to keep a detailed track about the kid’s medical history, paying special attention to dates. This comes in handy whenever children are referred to a new doctor. The idea is to make things easier.

Additionally, although seeing children suffer from chronic or any type of kidney disease is stressful and discomforting enough, parents should strive to be with their children as much as they possibly can during both treatments and possible hospitalization. Make sure kids are surrounded by their favorite things: books, toys, a special cushion or blanket, etc.

Teach Children How To Take Control Of Their Illness

Even though these might seem the worst days ever—and they possible are—, the idea is to keep a daily routine even during possible hospitalization. In the meantime, it is important to help children understand what doctors, nurses, machines are supposed to do and that they are for. For a kid, it can get really annoying to be in a room full of people and intimidating machines. By clearly explaining and helping them get acquainted with their surroundings, parents can help eliminate a part of their children’s legitimate fears. For such matter, it is quite useful to come up with a creative way to have children participate in their own care. By having them feel more in control they provide them with a sheer array of opportunities.

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Strive To Be Clear About Food Restrictions From The Very Beginning

Many children are forced to make drastic changes in their nutrition, and many just refuse to easily accept them. Kids are not used to the word «diet»; however, by developing a creative way to explain to them that they must adapt to a new nutritional plan, the likelihood of them accepting these changes is far higher than in the vast majority of adults. Have children make a list of their favorite foods and they assess it with a dietitian to determine whether they can be included in the new plan. Be that as it may, avoid forcing children to unquestionably accept these changes: this tactic rarely pays off.

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Some of the trends we can expect for dealing with chronic kidney disease

It’s sad but true: Chronic kidney disease progressively increases. In fact, in the registers of all countries, there is a constant increase in the population of patients who need dialysis as a substitute for their useless kidneys. The magnitude of this problem is serious when it comes to social health and, therefore, the finances of society. The reasons for this high mortality are indeed diverse but a significant factor here is the age of patients (considering that the population of old people is growing,) as well as a restoration with any kind of dialysis treatments of only fifteen to twenty milligrams per minute of renal function. Despite the advances that have been made in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, there has not really been a clear improvement in the progress of patients’ conditions.

Considering the few advances in this field, but the accelerated pace of technology in general, the question that arises is very simple: What trends in terms of dialysis can we expect to treat (and, perhaps, eradicate) chronic kidney disease?

The conditions of patients on hemodialysis, in general, represents a tremendous sacrifice for relatives and close people, mostly because of all the physical and emotional suffering they experience and the constant traveling to dialysis centers three times (or more) per week. In addition, the amount of deadly cases, not too different than those of metastatic carcinoma of the breast, to carcinoma of the colon or to that of prostate cancer, this forces the medical community to move towards other ways to solve this problem.

Although there have been many cases of progress in the health of patients thanks to the effective implementation of traditional methods of dialysis, especially in what has to do with the quality of life of patients, dialysis is not it ceases to be a control procedure, which only keeps an impossible problem at bay. This is what has set in motion the gears of science to find definitive solutions.

Read also: Dialysis: Almost 70 decades of hard work and progress, by Joe Cosgrove

It is undeniable that peritoneal dialysis is a very practical method for the life of patients since they do not depend so much on contact with professionals, as well as on the displacement to dialysis centers. In particular, peritoneal dialysis, which has been working with intelligent mechanisms connected to the Internet, is one of the most recent advances and the most beneficial for the work of medical science, thanks to the constant monitoring, and, consequently, to the constant production of data, research in this field can go a long way to find definitive solutions, in which dialysis as such is no longer necessary.

On the other hand, there is another effective method. Online hemodiafiltration it’s a new dialysis system that allows a greater filtration than what is usually achieved with conventional hemodialysis. It is one of the techniques that aroused greater interest in patients nowadays, and the use of it will surely grow. It is a modality of dialysis that maintains the diffusion levels of hemodialysis by increasing the convection, so that, by infusing a greater quantity of water, a higher level of solutes can be carried from the blood to the dialysis fluid. The clearance that is obtained is greater.

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In hemodiafiltration, it is necessary to infuse a liquid of greater purity than that used for conventional modalities. This leads to using machines with very clean filters that, of course, are much more expensive. Although conventional hemodialysis guarantees very good results in the short term, in the long term it is a difficult experience for both patients and people around them. So this can be an excellent alternative.

However, hemodiafiltration online is not yet a widespread technique, and to make it massive is not a simple matter. Because there is still no study that states with total certainty that this option has clear advantages over conventional hemodialysis, there is still not much support from the governments of many countries. Although it is a technique that has shown advantages in some fields, It is very risky to consider that, definitely, it is the perfect replacement for the other types of dialysis.

The future of dialysis does not have much to do with the reduction of filtering times to which patients must submit. The current trend is to encourage techniques such as peritoneal dialysis, which dialyze more hours and more frequently since it is the way of working more similar to that of the kidney.

Embryonic stem cells could be an important trend too. These are undifferentiated pluripotent cells, isolated from the inner layer of the blastocyst, have the ability to differentiate into cells of different types: Mesodermal, endodermal, and ectodermal, depending on the culture conditions. It is, therefore, a type of cells that have a potential possibility of tissue regeneration.

It is necessary to be optimistic and continue investigating. If dealing with chronic kidney disease is a medical priority in several countries, the future of patients will be promising.

Recommended: Changes in the worldwide epidemiology of peritoneal dialysis

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Kidney Disease in Children

As per discussed in previous articles by Joe Cosgrove, kidney disease can affect individuals in various ways. Children, nonetheless, are not the exception. Just like with adults, kidney disease can affect children in different ways, ranging from treatable, to some extent, conditions or disorders without the already mentioned lasting consequences to really life-endangering complications. Kidney disease, especially acute kidney disease, comes out of nowhere, may even last a short amount of time, may also be serious enough for it to leave children with long-lasting consequence, or may go away after treatment. Chronic kidney disease, however, does not fade away so easily, and it tends to worsen as time passes by. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) eventually evolves into kidney failure, end-stage kidney disease or even end-stage renal failure when dialysis is involved.

Children with chronic kidney disease actually are forced to face many tough and dreary challenges. Some of them include a really negative self-image, some relationship problems, behavioral issues, learning disorders, trouble focusing on what is important, delayed language and motor skills development, amongst others. Children suffering from CKD have shown a much slower growth rate in comparison to their peers; urinary incontinence is also very common.

Are there causes for kidney disease in children?

Kidney disease, regardless of its nature, in children can be caused by several causes: birth defects, hereditary conditions, infections, systemic diseases, trauma, nephrotic syndrome, reflux or urine blockage. From birth to age 5, hereditary conditions alongside birth defects are the most leading causes of kidney diseases and kidney failure. Between ages 6 and 15, kidney failure has been associated mostly with hereditary diseases, the aforementioned nephrotic syndrome and other systemic diseases. After that, between ages 16 and 20, several diseases that affect the glomeruli are the leading cause of acute kidney disease and chronic kidney disease. Hereditary diseases seem to be less common in comparison to early stages of life.

The most common causes explained:

Birth defects and conditions

The term birth defects suggests that a problem has happened while the baby is developing in the womb. Birth defects can range from renal agenesis, to renal dysplasia, and even to ectopic kidneys, just to mention several. These are mainly abnormalities of size, position, and structure of the organs. Generally speaking, children with these diseases can get to live full and healthy lives; nevertheless, some children end up facing much higher odds of developing a much worse kidney disease.

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Hereditary conditions

Hereditary conditions or hereditary kidney diseases are those that are passed from parent to children through genes. One example is the commonly referred to as polycystic kidney diseases or PKD, which is often characterized by the presence of many grapelike groups of cysts (fluid-filled cysts, in this case) that make both organs much larger over time. The cysts often destroy the individual or the children’s working healthy and kidney tissue as time passes by. Alongside PKD, Alport Syndrome, which is often caused by a mutation in a gene, is also common in children. The disease leads to scarring of the organ. This syndrome generally appears in early childhood, and it seems to affect boys more than women. Besides, it evolves into, or causes, hearing and vision issues in addition to the original affection.


Aside from the aforementioned syndrome, infections also may end up causing other syndromes as well. Acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis and hemolytic uremic syndrome are kidney conditions that can develop in children after the presence of a tough infection. The latter is rather a rare condition that is often generated by the E. coli bacteria—mostly found in contaminated foods—. Hemolytic uremic syndrome starts to form when E. coli gets to the digestive tract and the toxins are allowed into the host’s bloodstream. The toxins start to attack the individual’s red blood cells and damage blood vessels while at it. Most children who have E. coli infection often suffer from ongoing episodes of vomiting, stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea for up to three days. They also become pale and show tiredness and irritability. The former, acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, often occurs after episodes of both skin infection or strep throat. The streptococcus bacteria does not go straight for the kidneys; it starts by confusing the immune system, prompting it to produce antibodies in excess. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system. The immune system is responsible for protecting individuals from different infections by assessing and subsequently identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses and other foreign threats. When the body over produces antibodies and these get to the blood and finally end up being allocated in the glomeruli, the kidneys are at open to suffering heavy damage. Most cases develop within 3 weeks after having suffered an untreated infection. It is nonetheless treatable; however, kidney damage may last forever.

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