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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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How can I help myself?

Kidney disease can have a major impact on your life but it doesn’t have to define who you are. You can still lead a full and active life and there are lots of things you can do to make sure that you stay in control.

For many people, taking control means becoming an expert on managing your kidney disease by:

Developing a clear understanding of your illness and medical history and knowing what medications you are taking, why you are taking them and what over-the-counter medications you should avoid.

Asking questions about your illness, (for example, asking doctors to outline the pros and cons of the treatment options available to you and asking how you can be helped to make decisions that are right for you). The NHS initiative ‘Ask 3 Questions’ gives some helpful advice about the type of questions to ask.

It’s always a good idea to plan and write down questions before your medical appointments. You may also want to ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you so they can take notes for you and ask any questions you may forget.

  • Understanding why medical tests are done and what the results mean to you.
  • Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet – especially if you have been advised to restrict your diet by a specially-trained renal dietitian.
  • Taking regular exercise.
  • Taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health.
  • Building up a personalised support network of friends, family members, healthcare professionals, organisations, charities and patient groups that you can go to for help, advice and information – if you need it.

You can do as much or as little as you want because it’s your life and your kidney disease. You may want to do everything on your own or you may want a friend or family member to:

  • Help you gather and store your medical information
  • Come along with you to any appointments or meetings
  • Help you get your questions, viewpoint, comments and wishes across to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Exercise with you

Whatever you choose to do, taking control of your kidney disease can help you to make sure you get the treatments and care that best suits your life.

Suggested links

Watch Dr Kathryn Griffith talk about chronic kidney disease.

NHS 'Think Kidneys' Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) awareness campaign

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