Select Page

Kidney disease & treatment

When kidneys stop working

Why do kidneys stop working?

Many different things can cause problems in your kidneys. Sometimes these problems can make your kidneys stop working:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
  • Genetic diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Injury
  • Some medicines, such as chemotherapy or NSAIDS (a type of pain medicine that includes aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen)
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin

If I have kidney disease, how can I prevent my kidneys from getting worse?

Ask your doctor for specific steps you can take to prevent your kidneys from getting worse. To keep your kidneys healthy:

  • Lower your blood pressure if it’s high
  • Keep blood-sugar levels under control if you’re diabetic
  • Eat less salt
  • Avoid NSAIDs
  • Eat less protein, such as meat and beans
  • Get a yearly flu shot

If you have kidney disease, it’s very important that you also:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Watch your weight
  • Follow a balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Avoid drinking alcohol often or in large amounts
  • Drink enough water or other fluids
  • Have your doctor check your cholesterol levels
  • Get a yearly physical
  • Know your family medical history

Talk to a dietitian or your doctor about what kinds of foods you should eat. Even if you do everything you should, your kidneys may still get worse over time.

What happens if both of my kidneys stop working?

If this happens, you will need treatment to filter out waste. Treatments include:

  • Kidney transplant (from a living donor or a deceased donor)
  • Dialysis

You may also choose no treatment if dialysis or transplant aren’t best for you.

UNOS proudly recognizes sponsors whose generosity helps make our lifesaving mission possible.
Learn about sponsorships and our editorial standards.

Share This