Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can't always be prevented, but you can take steps to reduce the chances of getting the condition.

Following the advice below can reduce your risk.

Manage underlying conditions

If you have a long-term condition that could potentially lead to kidney disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it's important this is managed carefully.

Follow the advice of your GP, take any medication you're prescribed and keep all appointments relating to your condition.

Stop smoking

Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks or strokes, which is associated with a higher risk of kidney disease.

Stopping smoking will improve your general health and reduce your risk of these serious conditions.

The NHS smoking helpline can offer you advice and encouragement to help you quit smoking. Call 0300 123 1044 or visit the NHS Smokefree website.

Read more about stopping smoking.

Healthy diet

balanced diet can reduce your risk of kidney disease by keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at a healthy level.

A balanced diet should include:

You should also limit the amount of salt in your diet to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure.

Read more about salt in your diet.

Cut down on alcohol

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to rise to unhealthy levels.

Sticking to the recommended alcohol limits is the best way to reduce your risk:

  • men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week

Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

Read more about alcohol units.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise should help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing kidney disease.

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week is recommended. 

Read more about health and fitness.

Be careful with painkillers

Kidney disease can be caused by taking too many non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, or taking them for longer than recommended.

If you need to take painkillers, make sure you follow the instructions that come with the medication.

Kidney risk calculator

There is a calculator you can use to work out your risk of developing moderate to severe kidney disease over the next five years. You just need to answer some simple questions.

The calculator is only valid if you do not already have a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease stage 3b or worse. Ask your doctor if you're unsure.

You may wish to use the tool during your next GP or practice nurse consultation.

Use the QKidney Web Calculator.

Page last reviewed: 15/08/2016

Next review due: 15/08/2018