Living with Kidney Disease

Your life may be different when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), but you can still enjoy it. Taking things one step at a time is the best way to tackle any change.

20 Tips for Living with Kidney Disease

Here are 20 tips to help you continue enjoying your life:

  1. Learn all you can about kidney disease and especially your own condition. Work with your care team to find out how the information applies to you.

  2. Know that you can do this! Think of CKD as a challenge to be met head on. There are people and resources to help you become a partner in your care and aid you in living long and well with CKD.

  3. Learn about your medications, their proper dosages, and the name and the purpose of each one. Some medications, such as certain classes of blood pressure pills, can slow the progress of kidney disease. Ask your doctor what's right for you.

  4. Track your lab-test values over time and learn what they mean. Your healthcare team knows a lot about kidney disease, but you are the expert on you.

  5. Take charge and take action. If you don't understand something or if something seems wrong, speak up! Talk with your doctor. Ask questions. Find out what you can do to improve your health.

  6. Find out the symptoms of CKD and report your symptoms to your doctor. Some problems, such as fatigue, can be treated to help you feel better.

  7. Work with your doctor and dietician to determine good kidney-friendly dietary guidelines. Follow them as closely as possible and see how your diet affects your lab-test values. To find healthy, kidney-friendly recipes, check out DaVita’s kidney-friendly cookbook.

  8. Exercise regularly and sensibly. Talk to your doctor about the right level of exercise for you.

  9. Stay employed if possible. Even if you have to take some time off work to adjust to a new situation, try to work part-time or full-time. Keeping a job is a good way to stay active and engaged.

  10. Do some research and planning for financial considerations of chronic kidney disease. Resources such as social workers and kidney patient organizations can help.

  11. Find out your target blood pressure and work with your doctor to achieve it and keep it there. Research shows this can help slow the progress of kidney disease.

  12. If you have diabetes, blood-sugar control can help slow the progress of kidney disease. If you're not sure how to improve your blood-sugar control, ask your doctor for a referral to a diabetes educator.

  13. Be aware of the possible complications of kidney disease, including anemia, metabolic acidosis, bone disease, cardiovascular disease, fluid overload and high potassium and phosphorus. Each of these can be detected with the right tests; plus, you can do a lot to avoid complications if you learn what to look for.

  14. If your kidney disease is severe, decide whether you want to get on a transplant waiting list, or check out the possibility of a kidney transplant from a willing and suitable living donor.

  15. Visit a dialysis center to learn more about hemodialysis.

  16. If you're on dialysis, do all of the treatments your doctor orders. Work with your care team to feel your best. Monitor your Kt/V or URR (measures of whether your blood is being adequately cleaned) and other lab values over time; find out what to do to improve your test results if they are not satisfactory.

  17. If you have a transplant, take all your medications on schedule. Watch for any signs of infection, rejection or other illness.

  18. Pay attention to your emotions. Give yourself time to adjust and feel in control again. You may be dealing with uncertainty about the future or with changes in your lifestyle and relationships. It is normal to go through a period of upheaval.

  19. Ask for help when you need it. Talk to your family and friends, to other kidney patients, to your clergy or to your healthcare team.

  20. Cultivate your appreciation of life; do the things that are most meaningful and bring you the most joy.

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