Patient Education

Can I live a normal life with kidney disease?

Although a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease can be frightening, it does not have to mean that an individual cannot live a normal and joy-filled life. There are many resources to help you do the things you’ve always done, including exercising, socializing and traveling. Your life will change, but once you’ve accepted those changes, you can continue to enjoy satisfying experiences and relationships.

Can I work with kidney disease?

Kidney disease affects many aspects of a person’s life, maybe even the ability to do his or her job. Depending on the individual, a person may be able to carry on with the job, or they may need to change the hours or even the nature of the work. Some people will need to leave their jobs, but even so, there are ways they can remain productive and enjoy a full life.

Causes and symptoms of chronic kidney disease

Twenty-six million Americans have chronic kidney disease, caused by many combinations of factors. While a majority of those people are unaware they have kidney disease, the causes affecting the most people are diabetes and high blood pressure. Awareness of what causes kidney disease as well as the symptoms that may signal a person has it, is valuable information. The sooner kidney disease is diagnosed and treated the better chances are for slowing its progression.

How can I stop kidney disease from progressing?

The progression of chronic kidney disease may be slowed or stopped if a patient makes educated, everyday choices to improve their health. Following a kidney-friendly diet, taking medicines as prescribed, not smoking and adapting healthy lifestyle habits may make a difference in prolonging kidney function.

Phosphorus and the kidney diet

Although phosphorus is a mineral that is vital for good health, too much phosphorus can have very harmful effects on the body. A person with chronic kidney disease can have high levels of phosphorus if their kidneys are no longer functioning well enough to remove it from the body. One way to protect against unhealthy phosphorus levels is by limiting the amount of high-phosphorus foods and drinks consumed.

Potassium and the kidney diet

Potassium is a mineral that is important for good health. However, a person with chronic kidney disease may have an unhealthy level of potassium in the body. Some people with kidney disease may be instructed to eat a low-potassium diet to keep potassium levels in the bloodstream in a healthy range.

Protein and the kidney diet

Every cell in our body contains protein, and it is necessary for life. But when someone has kidneys that are not functioning at normal levels, their body may not be able to process large amounts of protein. As part of a kidney-friendly diet, a dietitian may recommend that you consume smaller amounts of protein.

Sodium, fluid and chronic kidney disease

People with chronic kidney disease may find that they are retaining fluid, because their kidneys are no longer able to remove excess wastes and fluids from the body as efficiently as healthy kidneys. They may be given a fluid restriction and be advised to limit sodium in their diets. Consuming less liquid and eating a low-sodium diet can help to reduce the amount of excess fluid in the body and may help better control blood pressure.

The connection between diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease in the United States. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease, while high blood pressure is the second leading cause. All of these diseases are commonly referred to as “silent killers” because they generally don’t have physical symptoms. It’s important to have routine visits with a physician to check blood pressure and blood sugar (glucose) levels and also ask for kidney function to be tested.

What are the stages of chronic kidney disease?

There are 5 stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) indicates a person’s stage of chronic kidney disease. Determining the stage of kidney disease is the first step toward creating a plan of care.

What is anemia and why am I tired?

Someone with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may also have anemia, a condition that results when red blood cell levels fall below normal ranges. A major factor in the development of anemia for those with CKD is the diseased kidneys’ inability to produce erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone which stimulates the production of red blood cells in your bones. Anemia is a condition that can be diagnosed and treated.

What is chronic kidney disease and who gets it?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs over time when kidneys become damaged or diseased and no longer function properly. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. and there are some people who are at a greater risk for getting chronic kidney disease than others.

What is dialysis and which modality is best for me?

Dialysis helps to do some of the work of healthy kidneys. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Dialysis patients who choose hemodialysis have a choice between traditional in-center hemodialysis, in-center self care hemodialysis, in-center nocturnal hemodialysis and home hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis patients have a choice between continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), which is performed manually and automated peritoneal dialysis (APD), which is performed with a cycler machine.

What is the kidney diet?

For someone with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it is important to be aware of the intake of certain foods, minerals and fluids. The kidney diet typically is lower in sodium, protein and phosphorus. In addition, some people with kidney disease may need to limit the fluids they consume and restrict their intake of potassium for better health.