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Questions to Ask if You Have Kidney Disease

Many people are afraid to learn that they have kidney disease because they think that all kidney disease leads to dialysis. However, most people with kidney disease will not need dialysis. If you have kidney disease, do not be afraid to ask your health care provider important questions about your health. The answers may help you prepare for treatment if you need it or ease your worries if you don't.

During your next health care visit, talk to your provider about your test results and how to manage your kidney disease. Below is a list of questions you may want to ask. Add any questions you think are missing, and mark those that are most important to you. Bring your list with you.

About your tests

  • Did you check my kidney health with blood and urine tests?
  • What was my GFR? What does that mean?
  • Has my GFR changed since last time?
  • What is my urine albumin level? What does that mean?
  • Has my urine albumin changed since the last time it was checked?
  • Is my kidney disease getting worse?
  • Is my blood pressure where it needs to be?
  • Will I need dialysis?
  • When should I talk to my family about dialysis or a kidney transplant?

About treatment and self-care

  • What can I do to keep my disease from getting worse?
  • Do any of my medicines or doses need to be changed?
  • Does what I eat need to change? Do my foods have the right amount of protein, salt (sodium), potassium, and phosphorus?
  • Will you refer me to a dietitian for diet counseling?
  • When will I need to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist)?
  • What do I need to do to protect my veins?

About complications

  • What other health problems may I face because of my kidney disease?
  • Should I be looking for any symptoms? If so, what are they?

If you're told that you need “renal replacement therapy” (dialysis or a transplant)

  • How do I decide which treatment is right for me?
  • How do I prepare for dialysis?
  • What is an AV fistula?
  • How soon do I begin preparing?
  • How can my family help me?​​

Don't forget to take your list of questions with you to your next health care visit! Print now.

For more information for people with kidney disease, visit the American Association of Kidney Patients.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.

March 1, 2012

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