Renal Compensation, Kidney Disease and Nutrition: What To Eat and What To Avoid

Individuals with end-stage renal disease are often prompted to follow a special diet and pay special attention to what they eat and what they should especifically avoid. As per discussed in previous articles by Joe Cosgrove, a renal diet is always recommendable for those patients with any sort of renal disease or kidney failure. End-stage renal disease and kidney failure patients often, if not always, are required to follow a specific nutrition plan and diet simply because their kidneys are not working properly, thusly making it more difficult for the organs to process certain foods. Thus, following a tailored diet puts less effort on the kidneys and, moreover, may actually improve the individual’s overall health.

Even if an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, it is of high importance to stick with a renal nutrition plan specially tailored to improve the individual’s kidney function in order to prevent further decay. A renal nutrition plan seeks to reduce the intake of several nutrients such as protein and phosphorus alongside other elements such as potassium, calcium, and sodium. By sticking with a renal diet, individuals and patients with kidney disease can definitely lower the amount of toxins and waste products the body accumulates in order to improve organ function.

Pay special attention to minerals

Sodium

Sodium can be found in the vast majority of the foods, and, moreover, it is often added to highlight some flavors. Most individuals believe that salt and sodium are the same; however, salt is actually the compound byproduct of chloride and sodium. Sodium is one of the body’s most important electrolytes and it helps monitor and control the balance of the body and its cells. It helps the body carry out some of its basic functions: it regulates blood pressure, nerve function and muscle contraction, acid-base balance, balances the amount of fluids that the body needs to either keep or eliminate, among others. In order to keep an eye on sodium intake, there are some things individuals can do: they can always go through food labels in order to determine the amount of sodium, they can pay attention to servings and, of course, abstain themselves from buying prepackaged meat and all types of processed foods. Choosing to cook at home using fresh ingredients is also a good way to monitor mineral intake.

Potassium

Aside from sodium, potassium is one of the body’s basic needs. This mineral plays a major role in keeping a regular heartbeat and the muscles working as they should. Potassium also helps the body maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the blood. Kidneys help the body keep an adequate balance of this mineral in the body. Individuals with renal disease and end-stage kidney failure often struggle to maintain these levels, and since the kidney can no longer complete this task properly, the accumulation and buildup of potassium may lead to a condition commonly referred to as hyperkalemia, which can be diagnosed should the patient start showing symptoms such as muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat. In order to better monitor potassium intake, individuals can always come up with a diet plan with the help of a dietitian, limit foods with high a high potassium content, limit all sorts of dairy products, eat fruits and vegetables and stay away from any salt substitute and seasonings with high potassium content.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus stands out as one of the body’s most important mineral as it is responsible for bone maintenance and development. It also plays a key role in developing other organs and connective tissue. Phosphorus is also involved in muscle movement. People with end-stage kidney disease or any issue related with kidney function often experience imbalances in the mineral which has been related to worsening kidney function as it may lead the body to accumulate phosphorus in the blood. An increase in phosphorus levels can take calcium away from the bones, thusly making them much weaker, and the subsequent increase of calcium in the bloodstream often ends up being allocated in other organs or blood vessels.

In order to better monitor the intake of this mineral, patients, and individuals, in general, can start learning which foods are rich in phosphorus—such as meat, fast food, canned fish, and cheese—, eat smaller servings and pay special attention to PHOS in labels.

 

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What foods should individuals with renal disease include in their diet plans?

According to a study, and aside from the aforementioned words of advice, adding fruits and vegetables to an individual’s diet may help protect the organs from further deterioration. In the western hemisphere, a diet commonly consists of animal and grain foods, which are highly acidic. When an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, the body is unable to get rid of the toxins and the excess acid found in the body, which is why some patients suffer episodes of metabolic acidosis. The idea is to increase the intake of less-acidic foods in hopes of alkalizing the body, thusly helping patients preserve, to some extent, a much better organ function.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

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Baxter ShareSource System: A New Dialysis Option for You

Chronic kidney disease is a quite underestimated subject by ordinary people. This issue is much more socially extended than many people believe, and, in fact, statistics suggest that one in every hundred people may be suffering from this terrible illness today. This problem is one of the main public health issues in several countries, not only because of its disastrous health consequences and because of its high frequency in the population, but because the treatments (dialysis, eminently) to respond to this issue are usually expensive. The main consequence when it comes to chronic kidney disease is that the patient must depend on a kidney transplant or a machine to survive in his or her remaining time of life.

The only option for thousands of people around the world is to sit or lay for three or four hours connected to a machine that removes toxins from the blood system. This is the only way to filter out a series of toxins as well as the excess of fluids in the body, which the kidneys eliminate in normal conditions. This is the normal life situation of millions of patients diagnosed with renal failure who cannot afford a kidney transplant, or who, although they can actually afford it, must wait for a donor for years. The process of dialysis, in any of its forms, must be carried out for life. The body has no vacations, after all.

This therapy has two modalities: hemodialysis, which can be performed three times a week in a health center, and peritoneal dialysis, which is done daily from the home of patients, four times a day. Each month, the specialist in charge of the process monitors the treatment and the condition of each patient and, if something is not going well, he or she makes the appropriate changes to improve the therapy.

Since the end of last year, a new technology allows doctors and patients to change that traditional way of doing dialysis (in any of both ways.) We are talking about the ShareSource platform of Baxter International, a system that automatically transmits (in real time) the data on what is happening with each patient throughout the dialysis therapy. This system not only saves time and money for patients, who no longer have to travel to hospitals or other places where their therapy is carried out, but doctors permanently know if one of their patients stopped using the dialysis system at home, as well as the frequency of use and if it is working properly.

Read also: Great Alternatives to Perform Dialysis at Home, by Joe Cosgrove

This technology for remote patient management was created to improve the patient’s treatment in peritoneal dialysis, in addition to significantly increase the efficiency of hospital centers. This bidirectional communication platform is based on the cloud and is incorporated into the automated peritoneal dialysis system. It not only offers physicians a more accurate and timely visibility of the compliance of the therapy by their home patients, which, in turn, allows the identification and early intervention of possible complications, but it also allows collecting important data that can be later become useful information for new researchers on chronic kidney disease. After all, this system monitors patients permanently. Perhaps, the most positive thing about this technology is the possibility of accessing the patient’s compliance data in time, and thus manage possible clinical complications in advance.

The most common drawbacks that usually occur with dialysis are problems with the catheter performance, which is the hose used for fluid exchange. This is the main cause that usually spoils dialysis treatments. When this kind of issues are identified, the doctor has the possibility of making a prescription to solve what is going wrong with the dialysis on time and avoid hospitalizations or other health complications that may be derived from a poorly carried therapy. This also means saving money to the health system since patients get sick much less.

This may be a good option for those patients who live in remote areas and who find it difficult to travel frequently to health centers to carry out their dialysis therapies or to be checked by their doctors. Actually, thanks to this intelligent system, it is possible to reduce the frequency of medical check-ups to one every two months. This gives patients much more freedom and saves doctors a lot of time.

Video: Connectivity Platform Provides Telemedicine Capabilities for Remote Patient Management

Actually, it is a simple platform to manage, that even works like any smartphone app. There is a main menu which shows a list of patients and what has happened during the last week of treatment with each one of them and generates alerts in case of trouble (if a patient skipped a dialysis session, if there was a problem with the connection, or if there were complications in the process of eliminating toxins, for example.)

Internet and Big Data technology has revolutionized all aspects of human life, including health. In this case, it has meant a great advance, which, in an intelligent and practical way, can help to improve the quality of life of patients, as well as the job of millions of doctors.

* Featured Image courtesy of EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine at Flickr.com

Dialysis and The Elderly: Solution or Mistake?

The elderly seem to depict some degree of declivity soon after they start dialysis. Although dialysis is perhaps one of the world’s most renowned medical development, nursing home individuals and patients who undergo dialysis in hopes of treating any sort of kidney disease showed sustained and evident declivity in their mere ability to perform basic activities. Joe Cosgrove has previously covered the topic of dialysis from different angles; however, it is important to mention the possible complications of starting dialysis in later stages of life.

According to a study, patients with end-stage renal disease worsened within three months soon after starting the treatment: A year after starting the treatment, almost 60% of patients in the aforementioned study passed away, and only 12% still manage to have a decent life—at the same level—as they did prior to undergoing dialysis. In short, and resorting to the findings, although dialysis has been linked to extending the lives of patients and individuals at nursing homes, it does not, however, seem to bring back the kidneys to their initial functional status. The elderly and nursing home residents under dialysis are clearly open to suffering a sustained and evident decline in their kidneys, which also raises the question about whether it does increase the rate of mortality.

An increasing number of elderly individuals with end-stage renal disease in America are starting dialysis: nursing home individuals account for almost 5% of new end-stage renal disease patients and almost 12% of them are above the age of 75. Although dialysis is a viable treatment for individuals with renal disease—at least to some extent—, the benefits and the perks commonly associated with the treatment seem to be uncertain in elderly patients. According to the study, the rate of mortality in the first year soon after starting the treatment surpasses the 35% among patients older than 75 years of age and surpasses 55% among those individuals older than 85 years of age. Additionally, the alleged benefits on the quality of life and the extent to which the treatment seems to extend the patient’s lifespan, especially in the elderly, are still to be determined.

Researchers and physicians gathered information from a national databank of patients currently undergoing dialysis with that from a national databank of nursing home and elderly patients to identify up to 3,700 different individuals who started the treatment between 1998 and 2000. The functional performance of the subjects was initially measured using a monthly-based scale; however, researchers deemed more suitable a 3, 6, 9 and 12 months scale to measure the alleged effects of the treatment on nursing home patients. After assessing the findings, the scores were compared to a previous assessment made soon before they started the treatment.

The period before and after the beginning of the treatment is definitely the riskier stage, for the vast majority of subjects and patients have increasingly tough conditions, and many end up passing away in the following months.

Efforts to offset the risk commonly associated with the treatment, and efforts to make special emphasis on the goals of actually improving the quality of life of the patients ought to be addressed during this period rather than after individuals have started to undergo the treatment. Be that as it may, these findings are not 100% conclusive, for the lack of a control group may have resulted in the inevitable misinterpretation and underestimation of the functional declivity that occurs after the beginning of the treatment. Nonetheless, many physicians and clinicians assume that starting a somewhat conservative therapy is basically a death sentence for all those nursing home patients and the elderly; however, they also acknowledge that there have been small studies that suggest that both mortality and the aftermath of the treatment is quite similar in both demographics, and even in those elders who start the treatment and those who do not.

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Prior to starting dialysis, the study concludes, nursing home patients and elderly individuals must acknowledge the real benefits of starting the treatment at such age, and they must be informed about the possibility of choosing a different approach aside from dialysis, for the risk, in light of the findings of the study is quite high. According to a recent survey, almost 95% of patients irrespective of their age and their families want to be given clear and concise information about the benefits of starting the treatment and whether or not their lifespan will be extended. As mentioned in previous articles, nephrologists and physicians must discuss these issues with their patients, for there is a really high percentage of clinicians who never address the possibilities their patients have at hand. Providing the elderly with precise information may mark the difference between having a good end or making it a nagging, excruciating, time.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com