Kidney Disease

Treatment for Kidney Disease

Different Treatments for Different Stages

There are several types of treatments related to kidney disease. Some are used in earlier stages of kidney disease to protect your kidneys. These medications and lifestyle changes help you maintain kidney function and delay kidney failure. Other treatments, such as dialysis and transplantation, are used to treat kidney failure. These methods help replace kidney function if your own kidneys have stopped working.

Treatments for Early Kidney Disease

Treatments for early kidney disease include both diet and lifestyle changes and medications.

  • Making heart-healthy food choices and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight can help prevent the diseases that cause further kidney damage.
  • If you already have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, keeping these conditions under control can keep them from causing further damage to your kidneys.
  • Choose and prepare foods with less salt and sodium. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.
  • Eat the right amount of protein. Although it is important to eat enough protein to stay healthy, excess protein makes your kidneys work harder. Eating less protein may help delay progression to kidney failure. Talk to your dietitian or other health care provider about what is the right amount of protein for you.
  • If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, ask your doctor about seeing a dietitian. A dietitian can teach you how to choose foods that are easier on your kidneys. You will also learn about the nutrients that matter for kidney disease. You can find a dietitian near you through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics directory.
  • If you smoke, take steps to quit. Cigarette smoking can make kidney damage worse.


Medicines can also help protect the kidneys. People with kidney disease often take medicines to lower blood pressure, control blood glucose, and lower blood cholesterol.

Two types of blood pressure medicines -- angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) -- may protect the kidneys and delay kidney failure. These medicines may even protect kidney function in people who don't have high blood pressure.

The most important step you can take to treat kidney disease is to control your blood pressure. Many people need two or more medicines to keep their blood pressure at a healthy level. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg. An ACE inhibitor, ARB, or diuretic (water pill) may help control blood pressure. Your healthcare provider will work with you to choose the right medicines for you.

(Watch the video to learn more about medications and kidney disease. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Be Safe With Your Medicines

Some older adults with kidney disease may take medicines for other diseases as well. If you have kidney disease, you need to be careful about all the medicines you take. Your kidneys do not filter as well as they did in the past. This can cause an unsafe buildup of medicines in your blood. Some medicines can also harm your kidneys. As kidney disease progresses, your doctor may need to change the dose (or amount) of all medicines that affect the kidney or are removed by the kidney. You may need to take some medicines in smaller amounts or less often. You may also need to stop taking a medicine or switch to a different one.

(Watch the video to learn how medicines can affect your kidneys. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Effects of NSAID Drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can harm your kidneys, especially if you have kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. NSAIDs include common over-the-counter and prescription medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds. Ibuprofen and naproxen are NSAIDs, but NSAIDs are sold under many different brand names. If you have kidney disease, do not use NSAIDs. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider if the medicines you take are safe to use. You also can look for NSAIDs on Drug Facts labels.