Doctors and providers who treat this condition


Renal Insufficiency


Your kidneys remove waste products and extra water from your body. When your kidneys don’t work as they should, waste products build up in your blood. The early stage of this process is called renal insufficiency. If renal insufficiency gets worse, you can develop chronic renal failure. This allows extra water, waste, and toxic substances to build up in your body. This can become life threatening. You may need dialysis or a kidney transplant. The most serious form of renal insufficiency is end-stage renal disease.

Diabetes is the main cause of renal insufficiency.  Other causes include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Hardening of the arteries

  • Lupus

  • Inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis)

  • Viral or bacterial infection

Some over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines can cause renal failure if you take them for a long time. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Home care

Follow these tips when caring for yourself at home:

  • If you have diabetes, talk with your health care provider about controlling your blood sugar. Ask if you need to make any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or medicines.

  • If you have high blood pressure:

    • Take your prescribed medicine. Your goal is to lower your blood pressure to less than 130/80, or to the goal set by your provider.

    • Do a regular exercise program that you enjoy. Check with your provider to be sure your planned exercise program is right for you.

    • Cut back on the amount of salt (sodium) you eat. Your provider can tell you how much salt each day is safe for you.

  • If you are overweight, talk with your provider about a weight loss plan.

  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking makes kidney disease worse. Talk with your provider about ways to help you quit. For more information, visit:




  • Talk with your provider about any restrictions you should make in your diet. In general, you should limit the amount of protein, salt, potassium, and phosphorus. Don’t drink too many fluids. Don’t add salt at the table, and stay away from salty foods. You may need a calcium supplement to help prevent osteoporosis.

  • Talk with your provider about any medicines you are taking to find out if they need to be reduced or stopped.

  • Don’t take the following OTC medicines, or talk with your provider before you take them:

    • Aspirin, other NSAIDs, and naprosyn. You can use these for a short time to help with fever or pain.

    • Laxatives and antacids with magnesium or aluminum

    • Phosphosoda enemas with phosphorus

    • Certain stomach acid-blocking medicine such as cimetidine or ranitidine

    • Decongestants with pseudoephedrine

    • Herbal supplements

Follow-up care

Follow up with your health care provider as advised.  Contact one of the following for more information:

  • American Association of Kidney Patients

  • National Kidney Foundation

  • American Kidney Fund

  • National Kidney Disease Education Program

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38.0°C)

  • Severe weakness, dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, or confusion

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath

  • Unexpected weight gain or swelling in the legs, ankles, or around your eyes

  • Heart beating fast, slowly, or irregularly

  • You don’t urinate as much as normal, or you aren’t able to urinate


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