Living with One Kidney: What to Expect and How to Stay Healthy

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Living with one kidney means that you have only one functional kidney instead of the usual two. This may be due to a medical condition or a surgical procedure, such as a kidney donation.

While having only one kidney may increase the risk of certain health complications, most people with one kidney are able to live normal, healthy lives with proper care and monitoring.

Maintaining kidney health is crucial, as the kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste and excess fluid from the body, regulating blood pressure, and producing hormones that help make red blood cells.

When someone has only one kidney, the remaining kidney must work harder to perform all these functions, making it more susceptible to damage or disease. This makes it important to take extra care of the remaining kidney by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and seeking regular medical check-ups to ensure early detection and prompt treatment of any issues that may arise.

Check Out: Polycystic Kidney Disease: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Reasons for Living with One kidney

Living with one kidney can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Kidney donation: Some people choose to donate one of their kidneys to a loved one or someone in need of a kidney transplant.
  • Birth defects: Some people are born with only one kidney, which can occur due to a variety of birth defects.
  • Surgical removal: In some cases, one kidney may need to be surgically removed due to disease or injury.
  • Trauma: In rare cases, a traumatic injury may result in the loss of one kidney.

Regardless of the reason, it is important for individuals living with one kidney to take steps to maintain their kidney health and prevent any potential complications.

Whether you were born with one kidney or had one removed due to medical reasons, it's important to remember that you are not alone. Many people successfully live with one kidney and lead fulfilling lives.

How Living with One Kidney Affects the Body

Living with one kidney can have some impact on the body’s function, but most people with one kidney lead normal, healthy lives. The remaining kidney will compensate for the loss of the other kidney’s function.

However, people with one kidney may have a higher risk of developing certain health issues, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and kidney stones. Therefore, it is crucial to take measures to maintain good kidney health.

What to Expect When Living with One Kidney

Living with one kidney can lead to a few changes in the body, but many people are able to live normal, healthy lives with just one kidney. Here are some things to expect:

Increased risk of kidney disease:

While having one healthy kidney can still provide enough function for the body, it is important to monitor kidney function regularly to detect any potential issues early on.

Physical activity limitations:

Depending on the individual case, some people may need to avoid contact sports or heavy lifting to protect their remaining kidney from injury.

Must Read: Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Dietary restrictions:

Some people may need to limit their intake of salt, protein, and potassium to reduce the workload on their remaining kidney.

Regular check-ups:

Regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider are important to monitor kidney function and overall health.

Pregnancy considerations:

Women with one kidney can still have healthy pregnancies, but should receive extra monitoring and care to ensure the health of both the mother and baby.

Emotional considerations:

Some people may experience anxiety or worry about their kidney function or future health and may benefit from counseling or support groups.

While living with one kidney can present unique challenges, it's important to remember that many people go on to live full, healthy lives. By staying informed, taking care of your body, and seeking support when needed, you can thrive with one kidney.

Tips for Staying Healthy with One Kidney

Living with one kidney may require some adjustments to maintain overall health. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your remaining kidney function properly and prevent dehydration.
  • Monitor blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the remaining kidney, so it is important to keep it under control through lifestyle changes and/or medication.
  • Avoid high-salt foods: A diet high in sodium can increase blood pressure and put stress on the remaining kidney.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help support overall health.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure levels.
  • Avoid risky activities: Contact sports or activities that could result in injury to the remaining kidney should be avoided.
  • Regular check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor kidney function and overall health.

By following these tips, those living with one kidney can help maintain their health and avoid complications.

Also Read: Kidney Cleansing: Home Remedy to Detox Your Kidneys Naturally

Adjustments for Specific Situations

Living with one kidney may require some adjustments in specific situations to maintain overall health and prevent any complications. Here are some of the situations where extra care may be required:


Pregnant women with one kidney should be closely monitored by their healthcare provider throughout their pregnancy to ensure proper kidney function and avoid any potential complications.

High-intensity sports:

While living with one kidney does not necessarily mean you need to give up high-intensity sports, it is important to take precautions to prevent any injury to your remaining kidney. Wearing proper protective gear and staying hydrated are key to maintaining good kidney health while participating in high-intensity sports.


Some medications can be harmful to the kidneys, and individuals with one kidney may be more susceptible to kidney damage from these medications. It is important to discuss any new medications with your healthcare provider to ensure they are safe for your kidney health.


Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for overall kidney health, but it is especially important for individuals living with one kidney. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help support kidney function and prevent any complications.

Must See: Lifestyle Changes for Keeping Kidneys in Healthy Shape

Support and Resources for Those Living with One Kidney

Living with one kidney can be a big adjustment, and it is important to have support and resources available to you. Here are some options to consider:

  • Join a support group: There are many support groups for people living with kidney disease or who have undergone a kidney transplant. These groups can offer emotional support and provide a safe space to share your experiences.
  • Work with a dietitian: A registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan that supports kidney health and meets your nutritional needs.
  • Stay informed: Stay up to date on kidney health research and news by subscribing to kidney-focused newsletters and websites.
  • Talk to your doctor: Make sure to keep in touch with your doctor and let them know if you have any concerns or questions about your kidney health.
  • Consider a medical ID bracelet: Wearing a medical ID bracelet that states you have one kidney can be helpful in case of a medical emergency.

Also See: 15 Best Foods for Kidney Repair: Healthy Kidney Tips

Living with one kidney may require some changes, but it is definitely possible to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. By staying informed, working with healthcare professionals, and connecting with support groups, you can take control of your kidney health and thrive.


Living with one kidney may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and support, it is possible to maintain a healthy and fulfilling life. By understanding the importance of kidney health and implementing practical tips for staying healthy, those with one kidney can thrive.

It is important to seek medical advice and support when needed and to connect with resources that can provide additional guidance and support. With these tools, living with one kidney can be a manageable and empowering experience.

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