People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) know that they need to put in more effort to manage their condition for life, as there is still no cure available.2 Modifications can be made to the diet and lifestyle to prevent the disease from worsening, but it is difficult for patients to make a full recovery. It has also been noted that patients with CKD experience a decline in kidney function with time unless they are particularly careful about their lifestyle and treatment.2,3
Untreated CKD can lead to kidney failure.4 However, there are several pointers that doctors give to enable patients with CKD to enjoy a fulfilling life and prevent kidney failure.
Ways to prevent kidney failure
- Monitor health regularly: Doctors strongly advocate regular health check-ups to test glomerular filtration rate and albumin levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels in the body.2,3 Each of these parameters has a direct correlation with kidney health, and normal levels of these vitals can be an indication that kidney function is being maintained. It is also important to take all medications regularly and minimise the intake of painkillers.1
- Improve your habits: Minimise stress and undertake activities to help manage and gain greater control of your life. Coping with stress by pursuing a hobby, doing yoga or anything else that simply makes you happy goes a long way in managing a host of chronic diseases. Controlling the consumption of alcohol can also prove beneficial since it adds to the calories and elevates blood pressure. Ensuring adequate sleep enables the body to get enough rest and reduces the strain on the kidneys.1
- Stop smoking: Smoking is associated with progression of kidney disease and interferes with the function of medicines that lower blood pressure. It also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular causes in patients with CKD. Research has shown that stopping smoking can reduce the worsening of kidney disease in patients with diabetes. If you smoke, you should talk to your doctor for therapies such as nicotine patch or gum or medicines that will help you stop smoking.3,4
- Protect yourself: It is important to ensure that you are safe from kidney infections, adverse reactions to medication, and that you are not exposed to conditions that can harm the kidneys further. Avoid taking any supplements or herbal medication unless prescribed by your doctor, and always inform your specialist if you are allergic to anything before you are given any dyes or pigments for a test or a scan, as these can cause a reaction and worsen kidney function.2
- Regulate fluids: Doctors will ask you to restrict your fluid intake; however, to make sure that the body does not have a deficit or overload of fluids, it is necessary to regulate your fluid intake.5 You should consult your doctor to find out how much fluid intake you need so that waste from the body is cleared out and the body is also able to utilise the fluids consumed.
- Nourish yourself: Every patient with kidney disease is told that they need to be careful about limiting their intake of proteins, as the kidneys undergo a lot of strain in eliminating proteins. However, patients also place themselves at risk of malnutrition or reduced levels of albumin if they are not careful when it comes to managing their diets. Restricting protein intake may slow the progression of CKD, especially in cases where the patient has diabetes. It is important to work with your doctor to ensure that daily protein and calorie intake is monitored and planned well to avoid over and undernutrition.3
Although most people tend to get overly anxious about kidney disease, it is important to remember that a little discipline and care can ensure that you live a productive and satisfying life.
- Preventing chronic kidney disease [Internet]. [updated 2016 Oct; cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/prevention
- Prevention and risk management [Internet]. [updated 2017 Dec 21; cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/prevention-risk.html
- Snively CS, Gutierrez C. Chronic kidney disease: prevention and treatment of common complications. Am Fam Physician. 2004 Nov 15;70(10):1921-8. Available from: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/1115/p1921.html
- Chronic kidney disease basics [Internet]. [updated Dec 6, 2018; cited Oct 15 2019]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html
- Diet in chronic kidney disease [Internet]. [cited Oct 15, 2019]. Available from: http://vikaspedia.in/health/diseases/kidney-related/diet-in-kidney-diseases/diet-in-chronic-kidney-disease#section-6