Frequently Asked Questions

Health Information Frequently Asked Questions


  • What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
  • How do doctors diagnose kidney disease?
  • What does the blood test for kidney disease reveal?
  • What does the urine test for kidney disease reveal?
  • How is kidney disease treated?
  • What kinds of medicines are used for kidney disease?
  • What is dialysis and how is it used to treat kidney failure?
  • Do I have to change what I drink if I have kidney disease?
  • What kind of diet is recommended for a person on dialysis?
  • What special issues face older adults who have dialysis?
  • What is involved in a kidney transplant?
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

Kidney disease is often called a “silent” disease, because most people have no symptoms in early kidney disease. In fact, you might feel just fine until your kidneys have almost stopped working. Do NOT wait for symptoms! Blood and urine tests are the only way to check for kidney damage or measure kidney function.

How do doctors diagnose kidney disease?

A blood test and a urine test are used to find kidney disease. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, you should also get tested regularly — ask your health care provider how often.

What does the blood test for kidney disease reveal?

The blood test checks your GFR. GFR stands for glomerular (glow-MAIR-you-lure) filtration rate. GFR is a measure of how much blood your kidneys filter each minute. This shows how well your kidneys are working.

What does the urine test for kidney disease reveal?

The urine test for kidney disease looks for albumin (al-BYOO-min), a type of protein, in your urine. A healthy kidney does not let albumin pass into the urine. A damaged kidney lets some albumin pass into the urine. This test has several different names. You could be told that you are being screened for “proteinuria” or “albuminuria” or “microalbuminuria.” Or you could be told that your “urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio” (UACR) is being measured.

If you have albumin or protein in your urine, it could mean you have kidney disease.

How is kidney disease treated?

Treatments for early kidney disease include both diet and lifestyle changes and medications. Diet and lifestyle changes, such as eating heart healthy foods and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight, can help prevent the diseases that cause kidney damage. If you already have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, keeping these conditions under control can keep them from causing further damage to your kidneys.

What kinds of medicines are used for kidney disease?

Two types of blood-pressure medicines — angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) — have been shown to protect the kidneys and delay kidney failure. These medicines have been shown to protect kidney function in people who have either diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as those with various types of kidney disease.

Many people need two or more types of medicines to keep their blood pressure below recommended levels to keep the kidneys healthy. (Your systolic blood pressure—the first number—should be less than 140.) A diuretic (water pill) also can be important. Your healthcare provider will determine which medication or combination of medications is right for you.

Because you have kidney disease, you need to be careful about all the medicines you take. Your kidneys do not filter as well as they did in the past. This can cause an unsafe buildup of medicines in your blood. Some medicines can also harm your kidneys.

Your pharmacist and health care provider need to know about all the medicines you take so they can give you advice on how to protect your kidneys.

Some older adults with kidney disease may be taking medications for other diseases as well. As kidney disease progresses, it is likely that the doctor will need to adjust the dosages of medications which affect the kidney or are removed by the kidney.

What is dialysis and how is it used to treat kidney failure?

Dialysis is a treatment to filter wastes and water from your blood. There are two major forms of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

In hemodialysis, blood is run through a filter outside of your body and the clean blood is returned to the body.

Hemodialysis is usually done at a dialysis center three times a week, but it can also be done at home. Each session usually lasts between three and four hours.

Peritoneal dialysis is another way to remove wastes from your blood. This kind of dialysis uses the lining of your abdominal cavity (the space in your body that holds organs like the stomach, intestines, and liver) to filter your blood. It works by putting a special fluid into your abdomen that absorbs waste products in your blood as it passes through small blood vessels in this lining. This fluid is then drained away. A key benefit of peritoneal dialysis is that it can be done at home, while you sleep.

Do I have to change what I drink if I have kidney disease?

Having kidney disease means you may need to change what you drink.

  • Water. Most people don’t benefit from drinking water when they are not thirsty unless they have kidney stones. Drink as much water as you normally do.
  • Soda and other drinks. If you are told to limit phosphorus, choose light-colored soda (or pop), like lemon-lime, and homemade iced tea and lemonade. Dark-colored sodas, fruit punch, and some bottled and canned iced teas can have added phosphorus.
  • Juice. If you are told to limit potassium, drink apple, grape, or cranberry juice instead of orange juice.
  • Alcohol. You may be able to drink small amounts of alcohol. Drinking too much can damage the liver, heart, and brain and cause serious health problems. Talk to your health care provider first.
What kind of diet is recommended for a person on dialysis?

All dialysis centers and transplant clinics have a person, known as a renal dietitian, who specializes in helping people with kidney failure. People who are on dialysis or have a kidney transplant should talk with their clinic’s renal dietitian to develop a meal plan that will enhance the effectiveness of their treatment.

What special issues face older adults who have dialysis?

Dialysis can be a special challenge for older adults, especially those who have other diseases or conditions. For example, hemodialysis requires that a person be able to leave home, travel to the dialysis facility, and sit for 4 hours during treatment. Peritoneal dialysis can be done at home, but requires someone to help. Often, older adults require assistance with some or all of these activities, and they and their families need to consider these issues as they choose treatment options and living facilities.

What is involved in a kidney transplant?

Instead of dialysis, some people with kidney failure — including older adults — may be able to receive a kidney transplant. This involves having a healthy kidney from another person surgically placed into your body. The new, donated kidney does the work that your two failed kidneys used to do.

The donated kidney can come from an anonymous donor who has recently died, or from a living person — usually a relative. But you might also be able to receive a kidney from an unrelated donor, including your spouse or a friend.

Kidney transplantation is a treatment for kidney failure — not a cure. You will need to see your healthcare provider regularly. And you will need to take medications for as long as you have your transplant to suppress your immune system so it doesn’t reject the transplanted kidney.

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Dr Ajay Goyal is an expert in the field of Nephrology and Renal Transplant medicine. He is specialist in management of diseases related to kidneys. He has 17+ years of Clinical Experience behind him

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