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Patient Resources


We are committed to equipping our patients with the knowledge needed to best manage their disease process and achieve their highest level of independence.

Educational Resources from our Partners

What Your Kidneys Do

What Your Kidneys Do

You have two kidneys that work together to:

  • Filter waste (urea, creatinine and more) from the blood
  • Balance electrolytes, blood pH and fluid in the blood and body
  • Produce a hormone (erythropoetin) to stimulate bone marrow to mature red blood cells
  • Convert vitamin D from a nutritional to a hormone form that is important in the absorption of calcium and bone health
  • Support blood pressure maintenance


Urea is a waste product of the digestion of proteins and is the primary component of the color and odor of urine. The kidneys help to filter toxic urea out and concentrate it in the urine. If the kidneys can no longer filter the urine of urea then dialysis is needed to detoxify the body.

Elevated levels of urea in the blood is called uremia.

Symptoms of uremia could include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of weight
  • Confusion
What Your Kidneys Do


Creatinine is a waste product of the renewal of skeletal muscle. When tiny filters (glomeruli) in kidneys are damaged, creatinine does not get filtered out of the body into the urine. As your kidney function decreases it causes a build up of creatinine in the blood.

The following components are used to determine your overall kidney function:

  • Creatinine level
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Age


Nephrotoxins are substances that can harm your kidneys.

The most common nephrotoxic group of medications are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). These NSAIDs can be purchased over-thecounter (OTC) or with a prescription (Rx). NSAIDs can irreversibly damage the physical structure of the kidney and can also often cause reversible decreased blood flow to the arteries feeding the kidneys.

The following are examples of NSAIDs:

  • Advil
  • Motrin
  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Goody’s
  • Aleve

Switching to Acetaminophen-based products can be a good alternative to NSAIDs.

What Your Kidneys Do

Herbal Supplements

Plant-based products used for medicinal purposes are called herbal supplements.

Herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA and generally should be used with caution for patients with kidney disease, unless evaluated and advised by your physician due to their nephrotoxic qualities.

The following are examples of herbal supplements:

  • Licorice Root
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Echinacea
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Chamomile

Contrast Dye

Contrast Dye is used to enhance certain areas of the body for diagnostic imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs. It is possible for the contrast dye to cause irreversible damage to your kidneys and result in hospitalization and emergent care, such as dialysis.

If you are scheduled for an MRI or CT scan, please inform your nephrologist so they can evaluate any potential risk or complications prior to any exposure to contrast dye.

The following are examples of contrast dyes:

  • IVP Dye or CT Contrast
  • Gaddolinium Dye
What Your Kidneys Do


Elevated blood serum potassium levels is called hyperkalemia. Patients with CKD are at risk for hyperkalemia as a result of reduced potassium excretion, intake of high-potassium foods, metabolic acidosis, and medications that inhibit potassium excretion.

One way to prevent hyperkalemia is to limit the amount of potassium rich foods consumed.

Symptoms of hyperkalemia could be mild and might include:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness


Sodium is an essential electrolyte in the body. One of the primary functions of the kidneys is to balance out these important electrolytes in order for the body to function properly. It is important to control your sodium levels because an abundance or lack of sodium in your body could lead to increased kidney damage.

Symptoms of a sodium imbalance could include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
What Your Kidneys Do


The condition in which the body is lacking enough healthy red blood cells is called anemia.

Symptoms of anemia could include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness

Anemia might be caused by:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Folate deficiency
  • Iron deficiency
  • Abnormal proteins
  • Blood loss
  • Renal (kidney) disease

Bone & Mineral Disease

The kidneys play an integral part in maintaining strong, healthy bones by regulating the essential minerals needed in your body in order for your bones to develop properly.

As your kidney function decreases, it is harder to  regulate these minerals in your body and this mineral imbalance could in turn affect your bones, heart and blood vessels.

Symptoms of bone and mineral disorder could include:

  • Bone pain/weak bones
  • Anemia
  • Itchy skin
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Heart concerns
What Your Kidneys Do


Phosphorus is a mineral in your body which is absorbed by the foods we eat.

The kidneys help regulate phosphorus levels in our body by measuring the body’s blood levels and secreting excess amounts through the urine. High levels of phosphorus can cause hardening of the blood vessels and tissues, also known as atherosclerosis.

Work closely with your nephrologist and care team to determine if maintaining your phosphorus levels via diet or medication is right for you.

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