Preparing for your appointment

You'll likely start by seeing your primary care doctor if you have signs or symptoms of kidney disease. If lab tests reveal you have kidney damage, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in kidney problems (nephrologist).

What you can do

To get ready for your appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do ahead of time, such as limit your diet. Then make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to your kidneys or urinary function
  • All your medications and doses, vitamins, or other supplements that you take
  • Your key medical history, including any other medical conditions
  • Questions to ask your doctor, listing the most important ones first in case time runs short

Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything you talked about with your doctor, and a relative or friend may hear something that you missed or forgot.

For chronic kidney disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the level of damage to my kidneys?
  • Is my kidney function worsening?
  • Do I need more tests?
  • What's causing my condition?
  • Can the damage to my kidneys be reversed?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the potential side effects of each treatment?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Do I need to eat a special diet?
  • Can you refer me to a dietitian who can help me plan my meals?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
  • How often do I need to have my kidney function tested?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions during your appointment as they occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask you questions, such as:

  • Are you experiencing any symptoms, such as changes in your urinary habits or unusual fatigue?
  • How long have you had symptoms?
  • Have you been diagnosed or treated for high blood pressure?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your urinary habits?
  • Does anyone in your family have kidney disease?
  • What medications are you currently taking? What doses?