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End-Stage Renal Disease: Care Instructions


End-stage renal (or kidney) disease happens when your kidneys can no longer do their jobs. They can't remove waste from your blood. And they aren't able to balance your body's fluids and chemicals.

This stage of the disease usually occurs after you have chronic kidney disease for years. Now the kidneys work so poorly that you need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. Dialysis is a treatment to help filter waste from your blood. A transplant is surgery to give you a healthy kidney from another person.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems with your medicine. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines and natural health products you take.
  • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen. They can make chronic kidney disease worse.
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in your target range with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medicine if needed.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products and limit alcohol.
  • Follow a diet plan that is easy on your kidneys. A dietitian can help you create an eating plan with the right amounts of salt (sodium), potassium, and protein. You may also need to limit how much fluid you drink each day.
  • Be active every day that you can, in any way that you can. Work with your doctor to decide what level of activity is right for you.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes if you become unable to speak for yourself.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • You have much less urine than normal, or you have no urine.
  • You are feeling confused or cannot think clearly.
  • You have new or more blood in your urine.
  • You have new swelling.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed or feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.