Patients with CKD Must Self-Manage

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People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) must self-manage their illness to a large extent to slow disease-progression by effectively managing medications and making lifestyle modifications (e.g., diet, fluid, exercise, smoking, alcohol). Engaging in this level of self-management is arduous and requires support, however, not all individuals desire the same kind or level of assistance. Despite this, people with CKD are rarely consulted regarding the support that they desire in order to effectively manage their condition. This is incongruent with person-centered care, which entails involving the individual as an active participant in their healthcare (i.e., patient engagement) and tailoring treatment to individual wants and needs.


Tips for managing chronic kidney disease


Tip #1: Lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure can be damaging to your kidneys. Work with your doctor or care management team to develop a plan to keep your blood pressure in check.  We will aim for a variety of blood pressure goals depending on each patient’s underlying medical problems.  Simple life choices, like regular physical activity, stress management or a healthy diet, can improve your blood pressure. You may even want to invest in an at home blood pressure monitor. Talk to your doctor about how to use it and ensure you get the most accurate results.

Tip #2: Maintain a healthy weight

A healthy weight not only reduces strain on the kidneys but also decreases your risk of other health conditions like coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes. The National Institution of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) offers a Body Weight Planner to help you create a plan and stay on track. Be sure to discuss your plan with your healthcare provider.


Tip #3: Develop a meal plan with a dietitian

Your diet plays a large role in chronic kidney disease management. Your dietitian can help you create a meal plan to maximize your kidney health, prevent or delay complications caused by kidney disease and improve other aspects of your health like high blood pressure or diabetes. A Kidney friendly diet includes low-potassium foods, limited protein consumption, and the right fruits and vegetables.


Tip #4: Exercise

Exercise may lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, reduce stress and improve your overall health. Before starting an exercise plan, talk to your doctor about how much physical activity you should be getting. A good goal is 30 minutes of activity each day. If you do not exercise regularly, start out small. The NIDDK gives some great ideas to help you stay active if you are overweight or have not exercised in a while.


Tip #5: Follow your medication plan

Patients who don’t take their medication as directed are at an increased risk of complications, hospitalizations and more healthcare expenses.  If you are having a hard time remembering to take your medicine or do not like the side effects, talk to your doctor to see if there is a way to simplify your medication routine or adjust your dosage.

Tip #6: Get your glucose (blood sugar) in control

It is not uncommon for patients to be diagnosed with both chronic kidney disease and diabetes. If this is the case, it’s important to be aware of your glucose levels and keep them in your target range. Your doctor will use an A1c test to determine your average glucose level over time. You should aim for 7 percent or less.

Tip #7: Find ways to cope with your diagnosis

Learning about a chronic diagnosis can be disheartening, and depression is common among those with chronic illnesses. Find healthy ways to cope by staying active, take time to pamper yourself, connect with others who have similar illnesses, set goals and create a routine, talk with someone you trust or pick up a new hobby. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.


Things to avoid

While you are managing chronic kidney disease, it’s important to avoid substances that can harm your kidneys like:


Alcohol, smoking and tobacco products: Smoking can lead to conditions that are harmful to your health and your kidneys. Alcohol and other illegal drugs can also damage your kidneys.


Dehydration: Illnesses resulting in vomiting, diarrhea or fever can cause dehydration, which is dangerous for kidney health. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids and avoiding diuretics like soda, coffee, tea and alcohol.


Certain over-the-counter medications: Pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen can cause kidney damage when taken in large quantities. Other medicines may be harmful to your kidneys as well. Make sure to discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.

Managing a chronic condition can be difficult, but you are not alone. Your doctors and loved ones are part of your care team and they want you to be as happy and healthy as possible. If you need help managing your condition, speak with your doctor.Bottom of Form

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