It’s important for kidney patients to understand what they can do to manage their health and well-being.
With early chronic kidney disease, the goal is to keep the kidneys working. It is possible to slow or even stop the progression of disease using diet, lifestyle and medications. Disease management approaches can also help patients on dialysis and transplant recipients improve how they feel. The BC Renal Agency provides a good overview of chronic kidney disease management.
Typically, patients who are newly-diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease are referred to the Renal’s Program Kidney Care Clinic. This clinic helps patients and their families manage their disease through nutrition counseling, social work support, teaching by nurse patient educators, and pharmacy review and advice.
The information on this page is helpful for anyone living with kidney disease. Read about:
Nutrition is a very important factor in kidney disease management. Making healthy food choices can reduce the workload on the kidneys, control the build-up of wastes, reduce symptoms and control the effects of high blood sugar for patients with diabetes.
Appropriate food choices for a person with kidney disease may be different from what is normally seen as a healthy diet. Also, a person’s recommended diet can differ from another’s even if they both have kidney disease. Each person has different needs depending on their age, medical history and kidney function. Nutritional issues also change over time and will depend on the stage of your disease.
Providence Health Care’s Renal Program offers specialized nutrition support across its services. Your renal dietitian will work with you to design an individual daily eating plan that's right for you.
- Kidney Community Kitchen - information and tools to help you manage your renal diet.
- The National Kidney Foundation – for kidney disease diet information
- Sodium 101 – for general information on sodium in food
- Spice It Up! – giving zest to your renal diet
- Culinary Kidney Cooks – cooking, food and kidney diet nutrition information for people on a dialysis diet
- Renal Support Network’s Health Library – food topics
- Davita – kidney-friendly recipes
People with chronic kidney disease may take a variety of medications to help manage their disease. Your renal care team will determine the most appropriate medications for you. Providence Health Care’s Renal Program offers specialized pharmacy support across all its services. Your renal pharmacist will meet with you annually to review your medications for appropriateness, effectiveness and possible side effects or drug interactions. You can also request an in-person or telephone consult at any time.
The BC Renal Agency maintains a list of medications essential in the care and treatment of patients with kidney disease. This is called a formulary. The medications in the formulary are funded, meaning that the patient receives these drugs free of charge. There is a different formulary for dialysis patients and for kidney patients not on dialysis.
In addition to prescribed medications, many people with kidney disease may use other products (such as allergy medicine or herbal supplements). It’s important to understand how non-prescription medications may affect kidney function or interact with other drugs. Be sure to let your doctor or pharmacist know if you are taking non-prescription medications or health products.
Here are some resources from the BC Renal Agency about medications:
- Renal formulary for patients in British Columbia
- Medication information sheets for patient use
- Community pharmacies in British Columbia that dispense renal medications
- A guide to the use of non-prescription medications for common health issues
- A list of common non-prescription medications
- Medication information sheet for patients with glomerulonephritis (GN)
Lifestyle and physical fitness
Like anyone else, people with kidney disease can benefit from following a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. Making positive changes can help promote physical, mental and social well-being. Certain lifestyle habits can also help slow disease progression.
People with kidney disease are encouraged to:
- Get regular physical activity (ideally 45-60 minutes, four to five times per week)
- Manage their blood pressure
- Control their glucose levels if they have diabetes
- Stop smoking
- Manage anemia
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit daily alcohol to two drinks or less
- Take medications as prescribed
The Renal Program can help you follow lifestyle recommendations and take care of your overall well-being. We also offer physiotherapy services to help patients improve their physical function and feel better, stronger and more in control of their lives.
Chronic kidney disease can have a major impact on aspects of a person’s life that are not directly related to their medical care. To support patients in their day-to-day lives, the Renal Program offers a range of social work services. Social workers are available across our program to help you with emotional, personal and practical matters to help you cope better with your disease. They can also connect you with helpful resources in the community.
The following resources can help patients with kidney disease manage issues with finances, transportation, housing and food security. Please contact our Social Work department for further assistance.
- Kidney Foundation Tax Tips
- Applying for BC Employment and Assistance
- BC Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities
- Canada Pension Plan disability benefits
- HandyDART transportation service
- SPARC BC Parking Permit Program for People with Disabilities
- BC Housing subsidized housing options
- Information, referral and outreach services
- Listings for free and low-cost meal programs in Vancouver
- Greater Vancouver Food Bank