Chronic Kidney Failure


Chronic kidney failure is also called chronic renal failure (CRF). It occurs when the kidneys slowly work less and less until they no longer work at all. Normally, kidneys remove chemicals and waste from the blood. These wastes are turned into urine by the kidneys. In chronic kidney failure, your kidneys can no longer do this. Chronic kidney failure can get worse and lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD).



  • Blood pressure medicine: This is given to lower your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.

  • Diuretics: This medicine is given to decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs. Diuretics can also remove excess fluid from around your heart or lungs and decrease your blood pressure. It is often called water pills. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or nephrologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Change your diet:

You may need to change what you eat and drink. A dietitian or nutritionist may work with you to help you do this. You may need to eat a high-calorie, low-protein diet. You may also need to eat foods that are low in sodium (salt) and potassium. Examples are cereals, grains, blueberries, and lettuce. Do not drink alcohol.

Weigh yourself daily:

Ask your primary healthcare provider what your weight should be and how much liquid you should drink each day. During chronic kidney failure, your kidneys may not be able to filter any extra liquid you drink. If this happens, you will gain weight rapidly. Weigh yourself every day. Write down your weight, how much liquid you drink or eat, and how much you urinate each day. Call your primary healthcare provider or nephrologist if your weight is higher or lower than it should be.

For support and more information:

  • National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
    3 Information Way
    Bethesda , MD 20892-3580
    Phone: 1- 800 - 891-5390
    Web Address:
  • National Kidney Foundation
    30 East 33rd Street
    New York , NY 10016
    Phone: 1- 212 - 889-2210
    Phone: 1- 800 - 622-9010
    Web Address:

Contact your primary healthcare provider or nephrologist if:

  • You cannot make it to your follow-up visit or dialysis treatment.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have chills, cough, or feel weak and achy.

  • Your skin is itchy or has a rash.

  • You are urinating very little or not at all.

  • You are vomiting everything that you eat or drink.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You heart is beating fast or you are breathing fast.

  • You are confused and very drowsy.

  • You have a seizure.

  • You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Chronic Kidney Failure (Discharge Care)