Skip to content

New Diagnosis of Kidney Disease? 3 Things You Need to Do

Do you have a new diagnosis of Kidney Disease or a related condition? There are 3 important things you must do!

  1. Talk to your doctor to learn 2 numbers: your creatinine and your GFR and know these numbers at every visit. Also ask your doctor about a formal referral to a kidney specialist known as a nephrologist. Seeing a nephrologist (by getting a referral early) will improve your chances of a better outcome and slower progression of your kidney disease which translates to better health and a longer period without needing dialysis. The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) no longer recommend using a race modifier for estimation of the GFR: this results in earlier access to nephrology referral, kidney transplant referrals and other crucial kidney care for people of African descent (Black) who are 3.5 times more likely than Caucasians (Whites) to develop kidney failure. Read the joint statement of March 9, 2021 issued by the NKF ad ASN!
  2. Learn More about your kidneys, how they work, and how they can affect your lifestyle and the length of your life.
  3. Learn what to do to protect your kidneys from further harm

Glomerular Filtration rate (GFR): A Useful Tool to Help Measure Kidney Disease

The GFR is an important number that tells your doctor:

  • How well your kidneys are functioning and if that function is worsening so the test will be repeated at intervals
  • When a referral to a nephrologist is needed
  • What medication doses will be safest for you in order to keep you safe, help avoid harmful adverse effects and protect your kidneys
  • What medications to avoid altogether in your unique case because at certain levels of kidney function, some drug manufacturers and the FDA may recommend that some medications be avoided
  • When to start preparations for dialysis
  • When to refer for preparation for a kidney transplant

The new recommendation to avoid using the race modifier helps ensure that all patients receive equal care and that Black patient receive attention (to all of the above care points determined by GFR) at the same point in their illness as patients of other races. Before the new recommendation, referrals for Black patients were delayed compared to patients of other races. Learn more about the controversy and what is being done here.

Your nephrologist will help advise you regarding your new diagnosis of Kidney Disease:

  • Next Steps
  • Diet
  • Medications to avoid and those to take
  • More information about your kidney function and the cause of your kidney disease! See this helpful poster from the National Kidney Foundation for information about the level of your kidney function known as GFR.
  • The necessary Behavior changes or lifestyle changes: for example diet and exercise are good but there are certain dietary supplements and health food store pills that may actually harm your kidneys!

Below we provide some helpful resources for some kidney disorders and related disorders that may lead to kidney damage. We will continue to update this page. Remember to always speak with your doctor as the information on our site is not medical advice but for information only.

Kidney Disease: An Important Overview

Our population  is significantly affected by kidney disease which affects patient outcomes and utilization remarkably. In the US, more that 37 million adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD), however, only 10 % of these patients are aware of their diagnosis. Very few people are aware of the causes of kidney disease, for example, many people do not even know that prolonged use of Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) and similar medications can cause kidney damage or even kidney failure.

If kidneys fail, a life-saving procedure called dialysis is necessary to sustain life, and even then, subsequent survival decreases drastically (to approximately 5 years on average) unless the gold standard treatment of a kidney transplant is achieved. The average wait time on the kidney transplant list is 5 years (without a living donor), but not everyone is eligible for a transplant and less than 20% of people with kidney failure get a transplant.  Kidney disease is costly to families and to the economy at ~$130 billion in Medicare spending annually. Prevention of kidney disease and slowing progression when disease is already present are therefore goals of paramount importance.

The leading causes of kidney disease in our population are diabetes and hypertension in that order. Other causes include kidney cysts, kidney stones, inflammation of the kidneys, obstruction of kidney stones, severe acute damage that does not fully recover or in more technical terms:  (some overlaps exist)

  • Primary and secondary glomerular diseases
  • Cystic diseases
  • Hereditary kidney diseases including cystic diseases like Autosomal dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD)
  • Tubulointerstitial disease
  • Vascular Diseases 
  • Obstructive uropathy
  • Sequelae of acute kidney injury (AKI)

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is sudden damage of the kidneys over a short period of time.  It is very prevalent with an incidence of approximately 20% in hospitalized patients. It is accompanied by a significant risk of death in some cases. Medications play a significant role in the incidence AKI, incidence of CKD, the progression and the slowing of kidney disease. AKI and CKD can be prevented in some cases.

The incidence of AKI was observed to have increased in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore the current statistics concerning kidney disease promise to significantly change due to this unprecedented pandemic of epic proportions and its sequelae.

Causes of AKI (in simple terms) include

  • Some Medications
  • Some Infections
  • Uncontrolled Hypertension
  • Obstruction of urine flow by kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, clots etc