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6 Ways to Be Proactive about Your Kidney Health

However you learned you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), the good news is that you found out you have it. The earlier you find out you have kidney disease, the more you and your renal care team can do to help maintain your kidney function and prevent kidney failure. While your health care team will do all they can to help you feel good, you'll need to take an active role in your care, too. Follow these steps to being proactive about your kidney health:

1. Learn about chronic kidney disease

Understanding CKD may help you feel more in control of your health and your life. Knowledge is power. Look for books, articles or videos about kidney disease, take a no-cost Kidney Smart® education course and never be hesitant to ask your doctor questions. Be sure to stick to trustworthy sites when you're doing research online, including DaVitaLife Options Kidney School and the National Kidney Foundation® (NKF). You can even help your family to learn more, too. The more they know, the more they can support you.

2. Be honest with your kidney care team

If you're honest with your entire care team about your diet, how you feel and what medication you're taking they can help you cope with kidney disease. Write down questions you may have before each center visit and inform your team of any changes in your symptoms.

3. Follow your kidney care plan

Your kidney care team will help you develop a personalized care plan. Your plan may require you to eat or limit certain types of food, take your medication, monitor your blood pressure, get exercise and make other healthy lifestyle changes. Take your health into your own hands and use the GFR Calculator to monitor the stage of your kidney disease by tracking your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). You can also ask your doctor for your lab results to monitor the effect your lifestyle changes have had on your body. For current DaVita dialysis patients, you can access your labs on the DaVita® Health Portal.

4. Get regular check-ups

It is recommended that you get regular check-ups with your primary care doctor and your nephrologist. Yearly influenza vaccinations, routine cancer screenings, dentist visits and blood tests are just some of the routine medical exams you should keep up with to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You may also be asked by your primary doctor to see a cardiologist, since people with CKD are at a higher risk for heart problems. Staying on top of all areas of your health can help you to feel better and may ward off future health problems.

5. Take your medicines as prescribed

People with kidney problems are often required to take medications, and sometimes the list can get rather long. Keep an updated list of all your medicine, which should include the dosage and how often you need to take each one. Filling a pillbox with your medicines at the beginning of each week may help you organize better. Also remember to get your medications refilled at least one week before the bottle is empty so that you never run out.

6. Have a positive attitude

People who take care of themselves and stay on top of their health are more likely to enjoy a long life with kidney disease. No one is always happy, but a positive outlook may help you have a good, fulfilling life.

Remember, you have the greatest stake in your good health. Be proactive about your renal care and take steps toward living a healthy, kidney-friendly lifestyle. 

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