Managing the Medicine Chest When You Have Kidney Disease

Having chronic kidney disease (CKD) and being on dialysis often requires an assortment of medicines. From phosphorus binders to various prescriptions, it can become a task trying to keep up with which medicines to take and when to take them. That’s why medicine management is essential for a person with kidney disease.

Diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) are the two leading causes of kidney disease, and medicines must be taken for these health conditions. Insulin injections or oral medicines are commonly prescribed for people with diabetes. High blood pressure medicines, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), can be prescribed to lower blood pressure and slow further loss of kidney function.

In addition, people with kidney problems or on dialysis often take the following medications and supplements:

  • A multivitamin preparation called B-complex, folic acid and vitamin C to offset the loss of these vitamins during dialysis
  • Phosphorus binders to help keep phosphorous levels normal
  • Stool softeners
  • Pain medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Cholesterol medicine
  • Antihistamines for dry, itchy skin
  • Iron or erythropoietin to manage anemia
  • Active vitamin D to help balance calcium, phosphorus and parathyroid hormone (PTH)

If a person has comorbidities along with kidney disease, managing the numerous medicines prescribed for certain conditions are important so that a person’s entire health is considered.

Tips for managing kidney disease medicines

An informed patient is better equipped to handle kidney disease and more likely to stay healthy longer. As part of understanding chronic kidney disease, patients must talk with their health care team and get an understanding of all their prescribed medications. Learning the names of all the medicines being taken and how each one supports kidney health is vital to a person’s well-being. It is vital to a person’s well-being to:

  • Learn the name of each prescribed medication
  • Understand the function of each medication
  • Know when to take different medications, i.e. before or after meals, at bedtime, etc.
  • Know which medications can or cannot be taken together

Keeping medications organized is also important, and these tips should be considered:

  • Forming daily habits – It’s suggested to get into the habit of taking medications at the same time each day. Link them to another daily event, such as a meal time or bed time, making it easier to stick to a schedule.

  • Pill organizers - A pill organizer is an effective way to divvy up pills to be certain to take the correct daily doses. An organizer that has separate sections for the days of the week and also different times of day can be helpful. For tech-savvy people, electronic versions of pill organizers may work best. To differentiate between medications and supplements, color-coded bottles can be useful, too.

  • Manage medicines electronically - Some people may want to create an electronic medication log or spreadsheet to organize medications. Also, websites such as www.yourmedform.com have downloadable forms that can be printed out and used for tracking medications.

  • Record everything in a notebook - A notebook can be used to record the names and dosages of prescribed and over-the-counter pills, as well as to store package inserts. In addition, a patient can record instructions from his or her health care provider regarding medicines, along with tips from a renal dietitian, nurse and doctor. Adding reminders for the next doctor’s visit in order to clearly state what’s happened since the last appointment is recommended. Patients can write down details about a medicine schedule and how they felt after each dose for the doctor to look over during their next appointment.

Summary

As with any major disease, the treatment for kidney disease typically includes a variety of prescribed medicines. People with kidney disease need to understand each pill they take and why they’re taking it. Sticking to a medicine schedule is critical in treating various health conditions. Check out DaVita Rx, a pharmacy exclusively for people with CKD, to help you set up a system to managing medications. People with kidney disease can take an important step toward supporting their health.

Related articles on DaVita.com


View All Articles in Treatment Overview


Have no fear, Diet Helper is here

Download a Cookbook

Get a free recipe collection from the DaVita® kitchen.

No-Cost Kidney Health Classes

Find a no-cost, in-person class near you.

Find a Dialysis Center

Over 2,000 across the US.

Advanced Search

Or call 1-800-424-6589 now to speak with a placement specialist.

DaVita

© 2004-2014 DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy of medical information | Web Privacy Policy | Safe Harbor Privacy | FAQs | Site map
This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a physician.
Please check with a physician if you need a diagnosis and/or for treatments as well as information regarding your specific condition. If you are experiencing urgent medical conditions, call 9-1-1

117