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Looking after your kidneys

Having healthy kidneys is important for your general health and wellbeing. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help to keep your kidney healthy.

If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), making healthy lifestyle choices can help to prevent further kidney damage.

You can keep your kidneys as healthy as possible by making any of these changes that apply to you.

Keep your blood pressure under control

blood pressureHaving high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly.

If the blood vessels in your kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from your body. Having extra fluid in your blood vessels may then raise your blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle.

Keeping your blood pressure under control is the most important thing you can do to look after your kidneys. Eating well, staying a healthy weight, keeping physically active and taking any medicine prescribed by your doctor will all help you do this.

Stop smoking

Smoking can worsen diseases that harm your kidneys, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. There's no safe level of smoking.

If you smoke, stopping may help to slow down kidney damage. If you need help to stop smoking, you'll find lots of information and resources in How to become smokefree.

Keep active

Keeping active is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Regular physical activity does more than just make you feel better. It helps to improve your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol, both of which can contribute to CKD. See the information and resources on Keeping active.

Stay a healthy weight

Lose weight if you need to.

Being an unhealthy weight increases your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, which can damage your kidneys. Read more about How to lose weight.

Eat well

Eating well can make a big difference to your overall health and wellbeing and will help you maintain your weight within a healthy range for your height.

Keep cholesterol under control

High cholesterol can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Eating well, keeping active and taking any medicine prescribed by your doctor will help keep your cholesterol under control. Read more about High cholesterol.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink helps you to control your blood pressure. Read more about Safe drinking.

Manage your diabetes

If you have diabetes, make sure you keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Have a regular HbA1c test. This looks at your average level of blood glucose over the past three months. You should have this test every six to 12 months so talk to your doctor if you haven't had one for a while.

Drink plenty of fluid

Drinking enough fluid every day is an important part of kidney health.

Manage your medicines

Check with your doctor, pharmacist or other health professional before taking supplements, alternative medicines or over-the-counter medicines to make sure they won't damage your kidneys.

Herbal supplements can be risky for people with kidney disease. Discuss any herbal supplements you're taking with your doctor or pharmacist.

Take all the medicines your doctor prescribes – ask your pharmacist how to take them if you aren't sure. Read more about How to take medicines.

Be careful when taking some pain relief medicines. The group of pain relief medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can harm your kidneys. Examples include ibuprofen (Nurofen, Brufen), diclofenac (Voltaren) and celecoxib.

Be aware of taking combinations of medicines that could harm your kidneys. Read The Triple Whammy – Safe use of NSAIDs for more details.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

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Page reference: 202954

Review key: HIKID-202879