How to Repair Kidney Damage

Three Methods:Changing Your DietMaking Lifestyle ChangesExploring Medical Treatment Options

Kidney damage may be the result of diabetes and high blood pressure or from other health conditions such as cancer, infections, injuries, or kidney stones. In most cases, kidney damage is permanent, but it may be possible to slow the progression of damage or, in many cases, it is possible to prevent damage altogether. It if is severe, then the kidneys may fail as a result and dialysis may be necessary.

Method 1
Changing Your Diet

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    Drink lots of water (if permitted). Water helps to cleanse your kidneys, which can help to keep your kidneys healthy. Try to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day (1.5 to 2 liters). If you have had kidney stones, then you will need to drink more water. Aim for eight to 12 8-ounce glasses (about 2 to 3 liters) of water per day.
    • If you are on a fluid-restricted diet, then follow your doctor’s instructions for how much fluid you can have.
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    Reduce your sodium intake. A high sodium intake can also make kidney damage worse and make it harder for your kidneys to repair themselves. Aim for less than 2,300 mg per day if you are under the age of 51, and less than 1,500 mg per day if you are over 51. To restrict your sodium intake you will need to get into the habit of reading food labels. Salt is often high in processed foods, so choose whole foods whenever possible. Processed foods that may be high in sodium include:[1]
    • Pizza
    • Deli meats and bacon
    • Pasta
    • Frozen dinners
    • Canned soup
    • Cheese
    • Fast food
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    Limit potassium. In someone with healthy kidneys, 3,500 to 4,500mg of potassium is the recommended amount; however, in someone with poor kidney function who is on a potassium restricted diet, 2,000 mg is the recommended daily intake.[2]
    • Check with your doctor if you are not sure if you are supposed to follow a potassium restricted diet.
    • Foods that are high in potassium include bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, squash, cabbage, dried fruits, grains, and salt substitutes.
    • If you need to limit your potassium intake, then you will need to check the potassium content of all of the foods that you eat and keep track of your potassium intake.
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    Eat a moderate amount of protein. Try to get about 20 to 30% of your calories from protein. Eating too much protein can damage your kidneys, but you still need protein for your body’s basic processes.
    • Steer clear of high-protein diets if you already have poor kidney function. High-protein diets can harm your kidneys.[3]
    • Choose lean proteins such as fish, skinless chicken, beans, and low-fat cheese.
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    Check with your doctor before taking any supplements. Some herbs and vitamins can damage your kidneys, so it is important to use caution when considering an herb or supplement. Make sure that you check with your doctor first before you start taking any herbs or other supplements.[4]

Method 2
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Get other diseases and conditions under control. Some diseases and conditions can predispose you to kidney disease or may even make kidney disease worse.[5] Try to get yourself as healthy as possible to help your kidneys repair themselves.
    • For example, if you have high blood pressure, then talk to your doctor about what you can do to lower your blood pressure. If you have diabetes, then do what you can to get your diabetes under control.
    • A family history of kidney disease may also predispose you to kidney disease, so make sure that you take extra precautions if you have a parent, sister, or grandparent who has kidney disease.
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    Exercise. Getting regular exercise can help you to stay in good overall health, prevent weight gain, and reduce blood pressure.[6] If you are healthy enough for exercise, then you should try to get 30 minutes of physical activity five days of every week.[7]
    • Check with your doctor to be sure that exercise is a good idea for you.
    • Try to find something that you will enjoy so that you will stick with it. For example, you might find that you enjoy swimming, biking, hiking, dancing, or a combination of these activities.
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    Quit smoking. Smoking damages your blood vessels and decreases blood flow to your kidneys. Since blood is necessary for healthy tissues, a lack of blood can cause damage and may also make it hard for your kidneys to repair themselves. Smoking also increases your risk of developing kidney cancer, as well as other conditions such as high blood pressure.[8]
    • Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs and medications that may help you quit smoking.
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    Use over-the-counter pain killers in moderation. When taken too often, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other over-the-counter pain medicines can lead to kidney damage.[9] If you take these medications on a daily basis, talk to your doctor about other options to manage pain.
    • Keep in mind that it is okay to use over-the-counter medicines for occasional pain, but frequent use can lead to kidney damage.
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    Request tests to check your kidney function. If you are concerned about your kidney function or if you are at risk of developing kidney problems due to a family history of kidney disease, then ask your doctor for regular kidney screening tests.[10] These tests can show if there is a problem so that you and your doctor can start treating the problem before it becomes worse.

Method 3
Exploring Medical Treatment Options

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    Follow a low-protein diet if necessary. In instances of severe kidney damage, a low-protein diet may be necessary to prevent too much waste from building up in your blood. Protein creates waste that makes your kidneys have work harder to get rid of the waste.[11]
    • Ask your doctor if you should go on a low-protein diet. If you need to go on a low-protein diet, your doctor will most likely have you meet with a dietician so that you will know what to eat.
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    See if you need to go on a low-phosphate diet. If your phosphate levels are high, then your doctor may require you to follow a low-phosphate diet. Dairy is rich in phosphate, so you will have to limit your dairy intake and reduce your intake of other foods as well, such as eggs, red meat, and fish.[12]
    • If reducing your dietary intake of phosphate does not work, then your doctor may prescribe phosphate binders. These medications have to be taken along with meals to absorb some of the phosphates in your food.[13]
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    Ask about medications to treat complications. Poor kidney functioning can lead to a variety of other health problems, so you may need to start taking medications to treat these complications. Some possible complications of kidney disease include:[14]
    • High blood pressure
    • Cholesterol
    • Anemia
    • Swelling
    • Brittle bones
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    Consider dialysis. If your kidneys are not working well enough to clear the excess waste and fluid from your body, then you may need to consider dialysis. You can either have hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.[15]
    • Hemodialysis is performed with a machine that filters the waste and excess fluids from your blood. You will need to go to a clinic a few days per week to have this type of dialysis.
    • Peritoneal dialysis is also done with a machine that fills your abdomen with dialysis solution that attaches to waste and unnecessary fluids and then drains them from your body. This form of dialysis can be done at home with a special machine, but you will have to do it every day.
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    Look into a kidney transplant. If your kidneys have stopped working and you do not wish to do dialysis treatments for the rest of your life, then a kidney transplant is the only other option. To receive a new kidney, you will either have to find a donor or wait for a kidney to become available.
    • Keep in mind that for the rest of your life after you have a kidney transplant, you will have to take medications to prevent the donor kidney from being rejected.[16]

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Categories: Urinary Health