Living With Chronic Kidney Disease

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2023

Living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be relatively easy in its early stages and more complex in later stages. Your finances, work, intimacy, travel, and relationships may change. The good news is that certain lifestyle changes can help improve your quality of life and keep you able to work longer. Learn more about how to find the care and support you need.

Finding the money to pay for care

Managing CKD can be expensive, especially if you have reached kidney failure. Money problems are common among people who have CKD. The reality is that most people need extra help paying for their care, particularly once their kidneys have failed.1,2

One of the things that makes kidney disease expensive is that it often must be treated along with other conditions, such as diabetes. However, there are many programs available to help people pay for their kidney care.2

Working with CKD

One of the best ways to maintain your financial health when you have CKD is to continue working. But it can be challenging to hold down a job as your symptoms become more severe.3

Federal laws help protect people who wish to work while managing their CKD and its many symptoms. Your kidney care team can help you learn about programs that support you on the job.3

Exercising with kidney disease

Everyone can benefit from a program of regular exercise, including those with CKD. Exercise makes you feel stronger and gives you energy. This can help you fight the extreme tiredness (fatigue), muscle loss, and sleep problems that come with kidney disease. If you have not been active in a while, you will need to start small. Try doing a few minutes of stretching exercises and taking short walks at first.4

Caring for yourself

When you have kidney disease, managing your own care can be challenging. Fatigue is common in later stages. This can make daily activities like showering and cooking feel impossible.5

It may help to set up a system to remember to take all of your medicines as prescribed. This can free you from worry about forgetting to take the drugs that keep you as healthy as possible.6

Intimacy and CKD

Kidney disease may lead to low sex drive and intimacy issues in some people. However, it is possible to maintain a safe and active sex life when living with CKD. certain medicines and lifestyle changes can help.7,8

People also can get pregnant at all stages of kidney disease, even while on dialysis. Tell your medical team if you have CKD and are thinking about having a child.7,8

Traveling with kidney disease

Many people assume they cannot travel if they have CKD. However, with extra planning, travel is possible for many people living with CKD. If you are on dialysis or the transplant waiting list, you will need to coordinate with your care team.9,10

Those with earlier stage CKD mostly need to stick to a kidney-friendly diet and regular sleep and exercise routines. Travel can be a good way to lift the spirits, see loved ones, and relax.9,10

Support for caregivers

Caring for someone with CKD comes with many physical and emotional challenges. Household routines, ability to travel, relationships, and finances may change – sometimes quickly.11,12

As a caregiver, finding support for yourself is vital. It may come from friends, family, nonprofits, and more. You also may want to find a therapist or clergyperson to talk with so you can express your feelings in a safe environment.11,12

Learn more about:

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.