Advice for Individuals Newly Diagnosed with CKD
By Stephanie Legin, RD, LDN
Disease prevention through a healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, effective stress management , and refraining from smoking is key. At an early age, get in the routine of scheduling annual checkups with your doctor (MD). This is the best way to keep track of your health and to identify any disease in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, disease prevention is not always possible.
It is very difficult to detect early stages of kidney disease on your own since there may not be any or very few signs or symptoms. For this reason, yearly physicals with your MD are encouraged to help identify renal disease. The earlier kidney disease is identified the better you will be able to manage the disease and slow its progression.
It can be very overwhelming and scary being newly diagnosed with kidney disease. You may feel afraid, unsure of what to do, where to go, who to see, or what questions to ask. For most people, the first question is, “what’s my next step in caring for myself and my kidney disease?”.
The following are some steps and resources to help you get started on caring for yourself and your CKD:
- First… Ask your MD to refer you to a nephrologist for an appointment. Schedule office visits as recommended by your nephrologist so they can keep a close eye on your level of kidney function. This enables the doctor to regulate medications and make recommendations as needed to keep your renal disease as stable as possible.
- Second… Ask your doctor to refer you to Renal Registered Dietitian (RD).
- Many nephrologists work closely with dietitians to help manage renal disease.
- If they do not know of any, try calling your local hospital where they usually have outpatient dietitians with whom you can make an appointment.
- The American Academy of Nutrition has a database of RD’s that you can look up by zip code and easily locate your nearest RD.
- Ask questions! No question is unimportant or insignificant. Your doctor is there to treat you as well as educate you on your health issues. You are a vital part of your health care team. Be your own advocate by having questions prepared.
- Always get lab work or other tests completed promptly when your doctor orders them for you. Not getting these done can lead to things being missed. Your renal disease or other comorbid diseases may go untreated and may progress.
- Take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Be an educated patient and understand what, how much, and why you are taking your prescribed medicines. Skipping or discontinuing medicines without doctor authorization can lead to further renal or other health issues.
- A team approach to treating and managing your kidney disease is important. Make sure you give access to your medical information to all your renal caregivers. This allows communication between all of them so they can develop a care plan just for you.
- Below are some reputable websites where you can find a wide variety of information on renal disease. These sites will help you understand renal disease, provide CKD diet tips, give great renal friendly recipes and list some useful cookbooks, locate local RD’s, find links to online or in person renal support groups (for you and/or your family), direct you to kidney blogs and chat rooms, etc.
- Kidney Chef: kidneychef.com
- National Kidney Foundation (NKF): https://www.kidney.org/
- American Academy of Nutrition: http://www.eatright.org/
- American Association of Kidney Patients: http://www.aakp.org/
- Kidney School: http://www.kidneyschool.com/
- Renal Support Network: http://www.rsnhope.org/
A diagnosis of CKD can be daunting; but, taking the steps necessary to get the care you need and educating yourself on the disease can help put you more at ease and in control of your health. Early detection, intervention, and education is key to successful kidney disease management. Take care of your body—it’s the only one you have!
The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. KidneyChef urges you to seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. KidneyChef advises you to never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Website.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or local emergency service immediately. KidneyChef does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the website. KidneyChef does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the Website and reliance on any information provided by KidneyChef is solely at your own risk.