What if I have kidney disease?
Many people are afraid to learn that they have kidney disease because they think that all kidney disease leads to dialysis, which is treatment with a machine that helps the kidneys work. This is not the case. Kidney disease can be treated and managed. The goal of treatment is to prevent the disease from getting worse.
There are many things you can do to help protect your kidneys. For example:
- Eat a kidney-healthy diet.
- Stay active.
- Keep your blood pressure at the target set by your doctor.
- If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar level.
- Keep your cholesterol in your target range.
- Take medicines only as directed by your doctor.
- Avoid some over-the-counter pain medicines.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- If you smoke, take steps to quit.
Talk with your doctor, dietitian, health educator, and other people on your healthcare team about actions you should take to help protect your kidneys.
Get involved in your own healthcare.
You are an important member of your healthcare team. You will want to learn all you can about your condition so you are an active participant on your team. Keep an ongoing list of questions you want to ask your doctor, dietitian, or anyone else on your healthcare team. You may want to bring along a family member or friend when you visit the doctor or other specialist to help take notes. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- Why do I have kidney disease? What caused it?
- Do I need more tests?
- Will my kidney disease get better?
- Will my kidney disease get worse? What can I do to keep it from getting worse?
- Will I need to go on dialysis?
- Do I need to eat a different diet? Are there things I shouldn’t eat?
- When should I see a nephrologist (kidney specialist)?
- How often should I have my kidneys checked?
- What medicine do I need to take?
- Will I be able to keep exercising?
- Will I be able to continue working?
- What else do I need to know about my condition?
- Do you have any pamphlets I can read?
Do not hesitate to ask questions. It’s very important that you learn about your kidney disease so that you can be an active member of your healthcare team and make informed decisions.