Advice for new patients

Kidney disease often has no symptoms, so diagnosis can be a shock. You may worry that your kidney disease will worsen and that you'll end up on dialysis.

In fact, the outlook in most cases is more reassuring. Kidney disease is common and usually stable (not going to get worse). Fewer than one in 20 people with the condition ever have kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant. 

People who have just found out they have kidney disease should try not to panic, says Tim Statham of the National Kidney Federation (NKF). A poor kidney function does not necessarily lead to kidney failure. There may be a perfectly normal cause, such as your age. As with other organs, kidney function naturally slows down as you get older.

Lifestyle tips for kidney disease

Although your kidney disease is unlikely to get worse or cause you serious day-to-day problems, it is a warning about your future health. That’s because kidney disease, even if it’s mild and stable, automatically puts you at higher-than-average risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you have kidney disease you'll benefit even more than the general population from improving your lifestyle and looking after your heart. The NHS will support and advise you, and you can help yourself by doing the following:

  • Lose any excess weight and exercise regularly (at least 150 minutes each week for the average adult). Find out if you are a healthy weight using this tool to check your BMI. Read more about how to lose weight.
  • Stop smoking. Read more about how the NHS can help you stop smoking.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Read how to achieve a balanced diet.
  • Reduce the salt in your diet to help keep your blood pressure down. Read more about how to cut down on salt.
  • Take extra care to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar at normal levels if you have diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Drink water normally and when you feel you want to, unless you've been advised otherwise by your doctor or dietitian. There's no evidence that drinking extra water or fluids will help if you have kidney disease.  Read more about how much water you should drink.

Here's more information on how to look after yourself if you have kidney disease.