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Pre-Dialysis Education

Basic Kidney Education

  • Most people have two kidneys, which are the size of their fist.
  • Your kidneys are located on either side of the back bone, just below the rib cage.

What do they do?

  • Each kidney has about 1 million nephrons that filter 200 quarts of blood. (A nephron is the filtering part of the kidney.
  • Keeps your body chemicals in balance, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
  • Removes extra water from your body in the form of urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through ureters.
  • Removes waste products from your blood; waste comes from what you eat, drink and normal muscle activity.
  • Removes drugs and toxins
  • Release hormones to control blood pressure
  • Release hormones to make red blood cells
  • Produce vitamin D to promote strong bones

Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

  • Take an active role in your health and ask questions.
  • Talk with you doctor about all medications, even over-the-counter drugs, before you take them.
  • Take all medications as prescribed.
  • Avoid using a regular or large amount of over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly. A normal blood pressure reading should be less then or equal 120/80. A high blood pressure reading is greater then 140/90.
  • If you have diabetes be sure to check your blood sugars regularly and take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and regular exercise program.
  • Avoid eating foods high in salt, cholesterol, and fat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Treat wounds and infections.
  • Limit exposure to heavy metal and toxic chemicals.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Visit your doctor regularly.
  • Incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.

Renal Function

  • Renal is a medical term that relates to the kidneys.
  • A Nephrologist is the term for a doctor that cares for your kidneys.
  • Blood flows into the kidneys through the renal arteries and leaves through the renal veins.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • What can cause a decrease in kidney function?
  • What medical test have I had done?
  • What medicines have I been prescribed? What does each one do? What side effects might I have?
  • What medicines, vitamins and herbs should I avoid?
  • Should I be following a special diet?
  • Should I be exercising? What types of exercise can I do?
  • How often should I be seeing my nephrologists?
  • Who can I talk to about the emotions I'm having?
  • What Web sties, books and other resources can I use to learn more about my health?

Acute Renal Failure

A sudden decrease in kidney function. If your kidneys are not seriously damaged often reversible, but it may lead to permanent loss of kidney function.


  • Dehydration,
  • Physical injury or accident that causes damage to kidney function.
  • Loss of blood
  • Medications, Drugs or Poisons
  • Some Intravenous dyes

Chronic Renal Failure

A gradual loss of kidney function. This can happen slowly and silently over many years. Because this can often go undetected for many; years, it is important to know how to keep your kidneys healthy.


  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Lupus
  • Chronic Infections-recurring urinary tract infections
  • Heredity
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Trauma
  • Medications, Drugs and Poisons
  • Heavy use of pain relievers or alcohol

Warning Signs of Kidney Disease

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Early Detection of these signs and symptoms is the key:

  • Sudden on set of high blood pressure
  • Blood and/or protein in the urine (may appear as bloody or tea colored urine)
  • A elevated creatinine level (a blood test)
  • Needing to urinate more often and especially at night
  • Difficult, painful or burning urination
  • Ankle and leg swelling
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness, paleness
  • Anemia