Some strategies to prevent kidney failure include treating underlying causes, controlling blood pressure, eating a kidney-friendly diet, and making lifestyle choices. Still, it may not always be possible to prevent kidney failure.

Kidney failure is life threatening. A person may need dialysis until they can get a kidney transplant. In some cases, though, acute kidney failure — the sudden form of the syndrome — is reversible. A person may need supportive care, including dialysis, until doctors can reverse the cause.

Preventing kidney failure when a person has a genetic form of kidney disease is not always possible. However, a kidney-healthy lifestyle can slow the progression of even genetic kidney disease and may prevent most other forms of kidney disease.

A kidney-healthy lifestyle reduces the organ’s workload and can lower the risk of chronic diseases causing kidney damage.

Read on to learn more about how to prevent kidney failure.

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Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, are major risk factors for kidney disease. A person with these conditions should monitor and treat their condition.

Some important tips may include the following:

  • Talk with a doctor about getting cholesterol into target ranges.
  • Monitor blood glucose and seek advice from a doctor about treating diabetes.
  • Ask healthcare professionals about dietary changes and lifestyle shifts that can reduce heart disease risk.
  • Take medications as a doctor directs. Do not suddenly stop taking medication, self-prescribe, or take over-the-counter medications without consulting a doctor. Be mindful of the risks of mixing medications, and tell a doctor about all the drugs a person takes.

A low-sodium diet can help reduce the risk of kidney disease, heart disease, and other risk factors for kidney failure. People with early signs of kidney disease should talk with a doctor or dietician about implementing a kidney disease diet. This may include reducing potassium and phosphorus in the diet, too.

Some tips to try include:

  • choosing vegetable toppings such as spinach or broccoli for pizzas
  • choosing foods with little or no added sugar
  • substituting unhealthy snacks for fruits — for example, trying to eat an orange rather than having orange juice
  • using different cooking techniques, such as baking or broiling fish and chicken instead of frying

Learn more about good foods for the kidneys.

Blood pressure above 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is a significant kidney disease risk factor, especially in people with diabetes. A person should check their blood pressure regularly, especially if there is a family history of high blood pressure.

A doctor may recommend adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle to control blood pressure.

If lifestyle changes do not control blood pressure, a person may need blood pressure medication to lower their kidney disease and kidney failure risk.

Learn more about 15 ways to lower blood pressure naturally.

Quitting smoking (if applicable) can improve anyone’s health, and it is never too late to reap the benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle. For people with kidney disease, they must quit smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease, which can damage the kidneys.

Excessive drinking may increase the risk of liver and heart disease, with the potential to cause damage to the kidneys. People should limit their alcohol intake and seek treatment for alcohol addiction.

Learn more about how to break a habit.

Exercise has many benefits, including:

  • helping to protect heart health
  • supporting the body to manage blood glucose
  • helping a person maintain or attain a healthy weight

Together, these health improvements may reduce the risk of kidney failure.

Learn more about cardio exercises.

People who are overweight or have obesity should lose weight to lower their kidney disease risk factors. Weight loss strategies such as eating a healthy diet and becoming more physically active may further reduce the risk of kidney disease and other chronic diseases that are risk factors.

However, people with kidney disease or kidney failure should avoid rapid weight loss or highly restrictive diets when trying to lose weight.

Learn more about how to lose weight.

A doctor can screen for kidney function with a simple blood test. A person can ask a doctor to do this as part of their physical. This can help detect early signs of kidney disease.

Screening is especially important before a person develops symptoms, as it may mean that the condition receives treatment earlier.

Learn more about kidney function tests.

Generally, people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease have a higher risk of kidney failure. Certain medications and medical crises — such as cardiogenic shock — may also increase the risk.

Vulnerable populations can lower their risk by:

  • seeking prompt care for any serious medical problems
  • discussing with a doctor how to reduce their risk of kidney failure
  • avoiding overuse of any medication, including supplements and over-the-counter medications
  • working with a nephrologist (a kidney specialist) if bloodwork shows signs of a kidney injury

Lifestyle issues greatly increase the risk of kidney failure, including in people with genetic kidney syndromes. Maintaining a healthy weight, an active lifestyle, and a varied diet may help reduce the risk while preserving overall health.

People with kidney disease or kidney failure risk factors should discuss prevention strategies with a doctor. Regular consultations with a nephrologist may be necessary as soon as a person begins showing early signs of kidney disease.