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Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual and permanent loss of kidney function. It is also called chronic kidney failure, or chronic renal insufficiency. Normally, the kidneys remove fluid, chemicals, and waste from your blood. These wastes are turned into urine by your kidneys. CKD may worsen over time and lead to kidney failure.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You are confused and very drowsy.
  • You have a seizure.
  • You have shortness of breath.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You suddenly gain or lose more weight than your healthcare provider has told you is okay.
  • You have itchy skin or a rash.
  • You urinate more or less than you normally do.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have nausea and repeated vomiting.
  • You have fatigue or muscle weakness.
  • You have hiccups that will not stop.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to decrease blood pressure and get rid of extra fluid. You may also receive medicine to manage health conditions that may occur with CKD, such as anemia, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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 healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to return for tests to monitor your kidney function. You may also be referred to a kidney specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage other health conditions:

Follow your healthcare provider's directions on how to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These conditions can make CKD worse. Talk to your healthcare provider before you take over-the-counter medicine. Medicines such as NSAIDs, stomach medicine, or laxatives may harm your kidneys.

Weigh yourself daily:

Ask your healthcare provider what your weight should be. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. CKD may cause you to gain or lose weight rapidly. Weigh yourself every day. Write down your weight, how much liquid you drink or eat, and how much you urinate each day. Contact your healthcare provider if your weight is higher or lower than it should be.

Manage CKD:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, 4 to 7 times a week, or as directed. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Regular exercise can help you manage CKD, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's advice about what to eat and drink. He may tell you to eat food low in sodium (salt), potassium, phosphorus, or protein. You may need to see a dietitian if you need help planning meals. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Limit alcohol. Ask how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and kidney damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need vaccines. Infections such as pneumonia, influenza, and hepatitis can be more harmful or more likely to occur in a person who has CKD. Vaccines reduce your risk of infection with these viruses.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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