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Impaired Kidney Function


Impaired kidney function is when your kidneys are not working as well as they should. Normally, kidneys remove fluid, chemicals, and waste from your blood. These wastes are removed from your body in the urine made by your kidneys. If impaired kidney function is not treated or gets worse, it may lead to long-term kidney disease or kidney failure.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have fluid buildup in your legs.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You urinate less than you normally do.
  • You have dark colored urine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have abdominal or low back pain.
  • Your skin is itchy or you have a rash.
  • You have nausea, vomit repeatedly, or have severe diarrhea.
  • You have fatigue or muscle weakness.
  • You have hiccups that will not stop.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to return for tests to find the cause of your impaired kidney function. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Support kidney function:

  • Manage other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. These conditions stress your kidneys.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before you take over-the-counter-medicine. NSAIDs, stomach medicine, or laxatives may harm your kidneys.
  • 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 can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your impaired kidney function. Smoking also harms your kidneys. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

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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.