How do I look after my kidneys?

 This guide has been written to help you avoid some of the common health problems associated with spina bifida, and to help you know what to ask your GP to do to help you. 
Problems with kidneys are often experienced by people with spina bifida, and the earlier they are picked up and treated, the better the long-term outlook.


Drink lots of water - around 2 litres per day unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Get to know the symptoms and see your GP straight away if you have a urine infection. The symptoms may include:

  • high temperature
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Cloudy urine
  • Strong smelling urine (maybe ‘fishy’)
  • A general feeling of being unwell
  • Back pain

If you are still using your bladder, you should be monitored by a Urologist especially if you have frequency (needing to wee often), urgency (the need to wee comes on very suddenly), or urinary tract infections (UTIs).

How your bladder works may change over the years, and high pressures developing inside your bladder can damage your kidneys. UTIs can be a sign that your bladder isn’t emptying completely, and frequency and urgency can mean your bladder is tight and working at ‘high pressure’.

This can be treated, so ask your GP to refer you to a Urologist, even if you are continent, or are happy with your method of managing your bladder. Similarly, an overloaded bowel can stop your bladder and kidneys working properly. Methods such as manual evacuation can lead to chronic overloading with faeces, so look into other methods, which might give you a better quality of life as well as helping your kidneys.

Tests for kidney health

Remind your GP to do a Full Blood Count (including your creatinine) every year. Kidney scans every 2-3 years will help too. If you do develop chronic kidney disease, your GP should refer you to a Nephrologist.

Have your blood pressure tested at least once a year. High blood pressure is both a symptom of kidney disease and can cause damage to your kidneys. Eat no more than 6 grams of salt per day and take medical advice on your salt intake if you have kidney damage. Controlling your salt intake helps to keep your blood pressure normal.

Once you hit 40, have a diabetes test once a year. Detecting diabetes as early as possible helps protect your general health. Untreated diabetes makes kidney impairment worse.

Shine Health Hub

The Shine Health Hub offers face-to-face health checks with our specialist team for Shine members at our health suite in Peterborough.  Appointments must be pre-booked.

Click here to find out more. 


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