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Talking to Your Doctor About Chronic Kidney Disease

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and experience with chronic kidney disease. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

About Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Do I have any signs of chronic kidney disease?
  • If so, how severe and what stage is it?
  • Do I have any signs of complications, such as high blood pressure or anemia?
  • What caused my condition?
About Your Risk of Developing Chronic Kidney Disease
  • What is the chance I will develop chronic kidney disease?
  • Should I be screened for chronic kidney disease?
  • Should my family members be screened?
  • How can I decrease the risk that I’ll develop chronic kidney disease?
About Treatment Options
  • What treatments are available to me?
  • What medications are available to me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with the medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I am already taking?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • What is my long-term outlook for:
    • Work?
    • Daily living activities?
    • Physical activity and exercise?
  • How will this affect my family?
  • Should I follow a special diet?
  • Are there any dietary changes I should make? Where do I start?
  • Should I begin an exercise program?
    • What kind of exercise is best?
    • How often should I exercise?
    • How do I get started exercising?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • How can I get help to quit smoking?
About Outlook
  • Can you recommend some support groups for me and for my family?
  • How will I know that my treatment has been effective?
  • What is my expected prognosis?
  • How often will I need check-ups?

Revision Information

  • Are you at increased risk for chronic kidney disease? National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atoz/pdf/11-10-1814.pdf . Published 2010. Accessed July 2, 2013.

  • Chronic kidney disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed July 2, 2013.

  • Chronic kidney disease: patient information handout. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/kidney/832.html . Updated November 2010. Accessed July 2, 2013.

  • Kidney disease basics. National Kidney Disease Education Program website. Available at: http://www.nkdep.nih.gov/patients/kidney%5Fdisease%5Finformation.htm . March 1, 2012. Accessed July 2, 2013.