Most people with kidney failure take a variety of medication as part of their treatment. Some medications will help to replace what the kidneys would do if working well. Your monthly labs will help your health care team know what medications you need. It is important to have your blood work done on a regular basis and to discuss your lab results with your dialysis team. Your lab values often determine the amount of medication you need as part of your treatment so it is important that you understand what the medications do. Your medications and dosage will vary depending on what type of treatment you are on – home hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, in-center dialysis or if you have a transplant.
Here are some of the reasons medications may be prescribed for conditions affected by the kidneys.
Taking Your Medication
It is not unusual for people with kidney disease to take a lot of pills and to take them at various times of the day. It is easy to forget to take medication with you when eating out or to remember to take them at all of the right intervals. When you are taking several kinds of medicine throughout the day, it can be tough to stay on top of all of them.
To remember your medications, you might use the following tips:
- Use a watch with an alarm and set it to remind you every day at the correct times;
- Give your schedule to a caregiver or family member who can act as a double check;
- Set a notice on your email calendar or cell phone;
- Use a daily pill organizer box;
- Keep your medicine in a place where you can see it, but where children can’t reach it;
- Use a calendar or daily planner to check off your medications as you take them each day;
- Work with someone on your health care team to create a chart you can post at home or use a white board where you can list all your medications and check them off when you take them;
- Use medication reminder apps on your smart phone – ask your health care team for recommendations.
In addition, here are some steps you can take to help make sure you manage your medications properly:
- Try to have all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy so the pharmacist can keep track of all the medications you are taking
- Make a list of all your medications and their dosages, and keep a copy with you when you’re out and about (see chart below for ideas)
- Take your medications at the same time each day
- Keep your medications in the same place
Medication Cheat Sheet
One way to stay organized and keep track of all your medication is to create a medication cheat sheet. This serves as a one-page summary of your medications that you can quickly reference when needed. You can make copies for family members to help keep them informed, bring copies to doctor appointments and keep a copy with you to reference while you are on the go.
Here is a template you can use when creating your cheat sheet: