Helping you live a better life on dialysis

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Talking to Your Doctor

talk to your doctor about kidney diseaseLearn information and tips about taking an active role in your kidney care

Having kidney failure means having to a make a lot of choices. Two key choices are finding a nephrologist and choosing the treatment that’s right for you. You can start taking an active role in your care right now. Learn about choosing a nephrologist, preparing for appointments and dialysis.



Managing kidney disease usually involves a care team of healthcare professionals that play different roles. The leader of your care team will be a doctor called a nephrologist, who specializes in kidney disease.

To find a nephrologist, ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation. You can also use Find a Physician to locate a nephrologist near you.

When it comes to learning about dialysis, there is a lot of information to cover with your doctor. Here’s a checklist to make sure you cover the basics:
  1. Learn what dialysis is.
  2. Find out what your dialysis options are.
  3. Read about life on dialysis.
  4. Visit a dialysis clinic.

You can also watch the What to Expect video to see what it’s like to get treatment in a dialysis center.

Preparing in advance for your doctor’s appointment can help you get the most out of it. Make a list of any questions you may have. Write down any symptoms you are experiencing. Also, do not hesitate to ask questions about what tests are being done and what the test results mean. Bring a pen and notebook so that you can take notes. Or consider bringing a family member or friend.

While your questions will vary over time, these questions may help you start learning about treatment options:

  • What are the benefits of hemodialysis (HD)?
  • What are the benefits of peritoneal dialysis (PD)?
  • What options do I have to do my dialysis at home?
  • What type of dialysis most suits my work schedule (if you work)?
  • What are the benefits of a kidney transplant?
  • How do I get on a kidney transplant waiting list? How many lists can I get on at once?
  • What would I need to do to get a living donor for a kidney transplant?
Content developed with the help the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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