People with chronic kidney disease usually have the following health professionals as part of their healthcare team:

1. People with chronic kidney disease usually have the following health professionals as part of their healthcare team:

2. Nurse - This person will help with the patient’s treatment of kidney disease, manage his or her health conditions. Some nurses even specialize in the treatment of kidney disease.

3. Registered Dietician - This professional is a food and nutrition specialist who helps people with severe medical conditions, including chronic kidney disease, create a healthy eating plan. Dieticians create an eating plan based on the status of the person’s kidney disease. They are specially trained to deal with people in renal failure, and often work in dialysis centers.

4. Diabetes educator - This professional teaches diabetics how to better manage their disease, and how to deal with diabetes-related health problems.

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5. Pharmacist - This professional educates kidney disease patients about their medicines and fills their prescriptions. This includes all over-the-counter medicines and supplements to ensure that they are either not combined in unsafe ways, or that they don’t have unsafe side effects.

6. Social Worker - This professional is for patients who will soon need dialysis. A dialysis social worker works with kidney patients and their families to ensure that they can deal with the accompanying life changes and high costs associated with dialysis. They can also help these patients apply for financial aid should the treatment be unaffordable for them.

7. Nephrologist - This professional is a doctor who is a kidney specialist. Patients with worsening kidney failure may be referred to this professional by a PCP.

Kidney failure patients should take their medicines as prescribed to help lower their blood pressure, cholesterol, and control their blood sugar levels. There are two types of kidney failure medicines which have been shown to help slow the progression of kidney disease, and delay kidney failure. They are ACE Inhibitors and ARB II Blockers. Many kidney patients need to take at least two medicines to help control their blood pressure. They may also need to take a diuretic, or a ‘water pill’ to help meet their blood pressure goals. These medicines work better if the patient controls his or her daily salt intake.

Those people with kidney failure will have their medicines adjusted periodically because the kidneys don’t filter blood as well as kidney disease worsens. The result can be an unsafe buildup of medicines in their blood, and some of the medicines are very strong and can actually harm the kidneys if taken in very large doses. Their health care providers may tell them to stop taking a medicine less often, or to take a smaller dosage over time. These patients may also be told to stop taking some medicines altogether, or to take other medicines over time. Patients need to inform their pharmacists and health care providers about all of the medicines they take including over the counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

If kidney failure patients decide to take over the counter medicines, they must exercise extreme caution while doing so because they can belong to the NSAID category and can damage their kidneys further, and even cause acute kidney injury, especially for those already suffering from high blood pressure, kidney disease, and diabetes.

Ibuprofen and naproxen are popular pain relievers which also belong to the NSAID category. Because NSAIDS are sold under many different brand names, kidney patients should ask their health care providers which medicines are safe to take. Those patients who take NSAIDs regularly to control their chronic pain should ask their health care providers about other ways to help manage their pain. They should also ask their pharmacist how various over the counter medicines that they take may affect either their kidneys, or other medicines that they are currently taking. They should also fill all of their medicines at only one pharmacy to guard against harmful interactions, and to keep track of their medicines and supplements. Patients should also keep track of all medicines they take, and bring them to every medical visit.

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Because the diet that kidney patients eat plays a large role in controlling their kidney disease, they should work with a dietician to help develop a meal plan. The right diet can help kidney patients protect their kidneys, meet their blood pressure and blood sugar goals, and prevent or delay problems kidney disease causes. The meal plan will need to be modified as the patients’ kidney disease progresses.

For obvious reasons, kidney disease patients should work with a dietician who knows about kidney disease. The meal plan can include kidney healthy foods which the patients like to eat. They should always use fresh ingredients and cook their food themselves as much as possible because this is healthier.

Patients may also want to meet with a registered dietician to obtain the nutritional counseling that will help them meet their health and nutritional goals (this is referred to as medical nutrition therapy - MNT).

Kidney disease patients should also exercise regularly - this includes 30 minutes of daily exercise - to help manage their weight and reduce their stress levels, both of which heavily influence kidney disease. Adequate physical activity can also help kidney patients manage their blood pressure and blood sugar levels better. They should ask their health care providers about appropriate types of exercise and physical activity.

Kidney disease patients should also keep their body weight close to their body mass index (BMI), because being overweight puts more stress on the kidneys and is attributed to more rapid kidney function failure. They should also sleep for at least seven to eight hours every night because this keeps their overall mental and physical health at its best, and can help them better manage their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. They should stop smoking because cigarette smoke damages the kidneys and accelerates the decline in their function.

They should also find healthy ways to cope with stress and depression - both of which they are bound to experience - because long-term stress can raise their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This can lead to depression. Regular physical activity can help reduce stress as can getting enough sleep. Diversions such as listening to their favorite music, focusing on calm or peaceful thoughts, and meditating can also help them reduce their stress.

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