How to Care for Patients with Kidney Disease
March 15 2022
These 7 Tips can Help Manage Chronic Kidney Disease
Kidneys perform an important function for your body, which is to remove waste and extra water from your body. They also remove acid that is produced by your cells and maintain a balance of water, salt, and minerals in your blood. Without this balance, your nerves, muscles and other tissues may not work normally.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called chronic kidney failure, involves a gradual loss of kidney function. In the early stages of kidney disease, you might have few signs or symptoms. In fact, you may not even realize that you have kidney disease until the condition is advanced.
Treatment for CKD focuses on slowing the progression of kidney damage, often by controlling the cause. However, controlling the cause may not keep kidney damage from progressing. While end-stage kidney failure often leads to dialysis or a transplant, it is key to manage CKD during the earlier stages. Here are 7 ways to help manage CKD.
1 The most important step you can take to treat CKD is to control your blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your kidneys. Working with a health care provider, the patient can take steps to keep their blood pressure lower, many of which are included below, such as taking prescribed medications, exercising, and eating a healthy diet.
2 If you have diabetes, you’ll want to meet your blood glucose goal. Regularly check your glucose levels and the health care provider should also check A1C, which measures the average blood glucose level over the past three months. The A1C goal for most with diabetes is below seven percent. Working with a healthcare provider will help the patient reach their blood glucose goal.
3 Many CKD patients will also be prescribed medications to help lower blood pressure, control blood glucose, and/or lower cholesterol. Two types of blood pressure medicines, ACE inhibitors and ARBs, may slow kidney disease and delay kidney failure, even in people who don’t have high blood pressure. Patients may also need to take a diuretic while on blood pressure medicine and limit salt intake in order for the medicines to work best.
It is important to understand that medications may change over time and as CKD progresses. This is because the kidneys don’t filter as well as they once did, which can lead to an unsafe buildup of medicine in the patient’s system. As a result, the care provider may change the dose or frequency of a medication, or direct the patient to stop taking a medicine or switch to a different one.
Also, the patient should be careful about the OTC medications or prescriptions they take for headaches, pain, fever, or colds that are NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen). These commonly used medications can damage your kidneys and lead to acute kidney injury, especially in those with kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Working with a care provider and pharmacist can help the patient better manage their medications.
Diet and Exercise
4 Diet and exercise are key to managing CKD. What you eat and drink can protect your kidneys, help you reach your blood glucose goals, and prevent or delay health problems caused by kidney disease.
Working with a dietician who understands kidney disease is crucial. They will be able to help the patient develop a meal plan that is both healthy and enjoyable. Often, the dietician will advise the patient to prepare meals from scratch as this is often healthier and contains less salt.
CKD patients should also develop a routine exercise regimen. Physical activity can help reduce stress, manage your weight, and achieve blood pressure and blood glucose goals. It can also help you sleep better. Working with a physical therapist will ensure that the exercise routine is tailored to the patient’s needs.
5 Sleep is important to a person’s overall physical and mental health. Patients should aim for seven to eight hours of good sleep a night. Getting good sleep can help meet both blood pressure and blood glucose goals.
Steps to improving your overall sleep hygiene include:
- Creating a sleep schedule (waking and going to bed around the same time each day)
- Avoiding foods or drinks before bed that can cause discomfort
- Creating a restful environment (such as eliminating screen time before bed)
- Including physical activity in your daily routine
- Decreasing anxiety and depression, which can keep you up at night
6 Smoking can make kidney damage worse by raising blood pressure. If the patient smokes, they will need to work with the care provider to quit smoking. Some ways that can help a person to quit smoking include but are not limited to:
- Using nicotine replacement therapy (gums, patches, etc.)
- Avoiding or limiting triggers (such as stress)
- Reducing stress through relaxation techniques or anxiety through medications
- Getting support through counseling
Reduce Stress and Depression
7 Long-term stress can raise your blood pressure and blood glucose and also lead to depression. The patient should work with a health care provider, which may include taking medication or working with a therapist. The patient should also learn healthy ways of managing stress. Exercise and good sleep can also reduce stress.