How To Keep Your Job While Undergoing Dialysis

Many patients find out they will have to undergo dialysis while working. This scenario prompts them to wonder many things about their current employments. Each year, half of all the patients who start dialysis in America are under 60; however, as Joe Cosgrove has previously discussed, it is possible to work while undergoing dialysis and, moreover, to schedule treatment appointments in accordance with the patient’s job.

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Control Fatigue

One of the first symptoms of any kidney disease is the constant feeling of fatigue. Many people feel just too tired to carry out their duties at work. Failing kidneys make less of a crucial hormone called erythropoietin, which is the hormone responsible for telling the bone marrow to make red blood cells in order to bring oxygen to the cells. When an individual lacks enough red blood cells, such state is currently referred to as anemia. Most patients with stage four or five chronic kidney disease suffer from anemia, which can make them feel tired, weak, mentally fuzzy, cold and even short of breath.

Anemia can cause a variety of symptoms aside from the ones mentioned above. Anemia can also cause pale lips and gums and nail beds. Traditionally, in male patients, it also causes erectile problems. Often times, patients with anemia have uncanny and unorthodox cravings: some crave ice, clay, laundry starch and even dirt. However, anemia can be treated, and people can regain their energy, yet many do not receive the treatment soon enough. Unfortunately, many individuals quit their jobs, since they firmly believe they will never feel good and well enough to work again. Soon after patients start dialysis and get their anemia treated, it is too late to resume working activities.

In light of what can be done, the aforementioned scenario is completely avoidable. Anemia is known for coming at a slow rate: people often fail at noticing it at first, which is why the wisest thing to do is to ask for a blood test. If the red blood cell level is low, it is quite a good idea to talk with a physician. Iron pills alongside folic acid have proven to be effective for treating this condition.

Do not rely on disability income

Permanent leisure time, no deadlines for that dreary report, no bosses around… It sounds like the perfect scenario. What the vast majority of patients ignore is that the Social Security Disability Insurance may only pay up to 35% of a full-time wage. To avoid any kind of fraud, even a private disability plan covers just 60% of full-time wage minus social security disability insurance payments. This means patients can earn much more money by working than by relying on disability payments.

What people also ignore is the fact that their lives would change dramatically if their income were to be reduced to one-third or two-thirds of their original income. If that were the case, people would struggle to keep their homes, their cars, etc. It is advisable to think things longer prior to recklessly deciding to take the disability option. Once people go that way, it can be very challenging and tough to go back in the future.

Choose (and try) to stay healthier

Research has shown that patients undergoing dialysis tend to feel much better if they keep their jobs. In fact, not calling it quits helps people become more physically able and reduces the pain commonly associated with this disease. In short, people have better health and, more importantly, more energy. Having a better physical condition while on dialysis means patients are subject to shorter hospital stays—which, of course, is also associated with a longer life expectancy—. People who actually feel better are more likely to carry out their duties at work more efficiently, since it provides them with a sense of purpose, belonging, identity and, last but not least, a fixed income. Those aspects are often associated with improvements at many levels; they allow people to feel much better about them and about their lives despite suffering any kind of chronic kidney disease or undergoing dialysis.


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Go for a treatment-work-friendly option

It is quite advisable to always plan things in advance—irrespective of whether an individual is about to start dialysis or suffers from any kind of chronic kidney disease—. Be that as it may, it is important to always bear in mind work schedules, the very nature of the duties associated with the job, and whether or not it is possible to continue doing whatever the job demands while on treatment. For that reason, it is quite advisable to choose a form of dialysis that allows patients to work during normal hours, travel if needed and have a normal diet.

Although kidney failure is a game changer (perhaps for the worst), by planning ahead patients can get the most out of their lives without having to quit their jobs, thusly reducing the impact of the disease on their income and, more importantly, their lifestyle.


How To Spot The Symptoms Of Kidney Disease

The kidneys have a very important and busy role when it comes to their functions in the overall working of the human body. These organs are charged with filtering out toxins that exist in your bloodstream and depositing those toxins into the bladder. The bladder empties the urine and so that residue leaves your body in a safe and expedient manner. The problem arises when the kidneys are unable to properly filter the waste components of your bloodstream and thus begin what we commonly know as kidney failure. In addition to that, they kidneys are also able to regulate the PH of plasma in the blood just like the lungs are constantly doing, but in some instances when the lungs are suffering and exchanging gases improperly, they kidneys pick up the slack and compensate through a slower, but more efficient process, and help the body reach the optimal acidity levels it should have.

Being such a busy organ, the kidneys may start to fail for many different reasons such as exposure to toxic environmental pollutants, severe dehydration, local trauma and certain types of acute and chronic diseases that may affect the normal functions. In some cases, people who suffer a heart attack, heart disease, a severe burn, a major infection or a severe allergic reaction have a high propensity to suffer from kidney failure because all of the former conditions may affect the amount of blood that flows to the kidneys.

Another factor that may cause renal problems is the inability of the kidneys to properly eliminate urine. This can happen due to obstructions in the urinary tract caused by kidney stones, some forms of cancer and in male patients mostly, enlarged prostate due to inflammation. When the kidneys are unable to send toxins to the bladder, they overload and begin damaging the organs.

The signs and symptoms of kidney failure are many and sometimes they are not even present in the earlier stages of the condition because the organs own resilience makes it difficult to detect before the situation is quite advanced. However, paying attention to these symptoms and getting tested can make a big difference in your own fight against the disease. Getting a urinalysis and a blood test is the best way to accurately predict if you, in fact, are prone or currently suffering from kidney disease that may eventually become kidney failure.


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Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of kidney disease. When your kidneys are healthy, they secrete a hormone called erythropoietin that regulates the production of red blood cells. When your kidneys are failing, the creation of this hormone is affected, thus making your blood’s oxygen level drop, something that causes fatigue and shortness of breath. Feeling like that can cause difficulty sleeping and a feeling like you are drowning when you can’t breathe.

The aforementioned anemia can also leave the brain oxygen-starved, something that causes dizziness, weakness and even the possibility of fainting. Something else that comes along is the difficulty to think clearly. This leads to memory problems and trouble with concentration. Patients often report that they forget the simplest task of having difficulty solving simply problems and concentrating on their reading.

Another common symptom is that of feeling extremely cold even when the room is warm. This is another side effect of the anemia caused by kidney failure.

Patients sometimes report itching all over the body. This happens because of the buildup of excess waste material in the bloodstream. Toxic waste in the blood causes severe itching all over the body, something that can become a real problem if the patient scratches constantly and breaks the skin.

Swelling in the hands, feet or even the face are not uncommon symptoms of kidney failure. This happens because they kidneys are not eliminating enough fluid out of the body and that remaining fluid can cause your joints and extremities to swell to the point of impairing mobility and causing a lot of pain and fatigue.

When your body is retaining waste that should have been eliminated, you may experience of a condition called uremia. Uremia may cause food to taste differently and cause bad breath with the smell of ammonia. Patients often say their food tastes like metal and stop eating meat altogether because they can’t stand the taste of it. This may cause a rapid and unhealthy weight loss. Uremia can also cause upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting.

Finally, one of the most important symptoms to consider and that sometimes gets ignored is the increased urge to urinate. People often don’t pay attention to these symptoms because they are commonly associated with other issues. Patients with kidney failure may notice they urinate more often than usual and with a strange pale color in their urine that is foamier than usual.How To Spot The Symptoms Of Kidney Disease

For more great information about dialysis, renal compensation and kidney disease in general, check out our other articles available in Joe Cosgrove’s Blog today.

Be aware of these consequences of having hemodialysis

What are the side effects of a hemodialysis? Joe Cosgrove asks himself. What changes do people experience when they are treated with Hemodialysis? In fact, what can patients expect when the treatment starts and all the changes in the body start to appear? Let’s first take a look at what causes a body to receive a hemodialysis and what it does to the body.

Chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury (also known as acute renal failure) cause the kidneys to lose their ability to filter and remove waste and extra fluid from the body. Hemodialysis is a process that uses a man-made membrane, known as a dialyzer to remove wastes, such as urea, from the blood; restore the proper balance of electrolytes in the blood and eliminate extra fluid from the body.

For hemodialysis, you are connected to a filter (dialyzer) by tubes attached to your blood vessels. Your blood is slowly pumped from your body into the dialyzer, where waste products and extra fluid are removed. The filtered blood is then pumped back into your body. There are different types of hemodialysis such as In-center hemodialysis where you go to a hospital or a dialysis center;  home hemodialysis which comes after you are trained and you do your dialysis treatments at home; daily home hemodialysis and nocturnal home hemodialysis.

Ok, but what are the real changes or consequences our body feels when it goes through hemodialysis treatments? Here they are:

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension). One of the most common side effects of a hemodialysis is a drop in blood pressure, particularly if you have diabetes. Low blood pressure in turn causes many other factors to change. For example, all this can come with shortness of breath, abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting. If the patient also suffers from diabetes, these problems will appear even faster.

  • Muscle cramps. If they occur, nobody knows why they occur during Hemodialysis, they usually happen in the last half of a dialysis session. The cramps can be stopped by adjusting the hemodialysis prescription and adjusting fluid and sodium intake between hemodialysis treatments.

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  • Sleep problems. People receiving hemodialysis often have trouble sleeping, sometimes because of breaks in breathing during sleep (sleep apnea) or because of aching, uncomfortable or restless legs. It is extremely common for dialysis patients to have sleep disturbances, which can affect daytime alertness, activity level, and overall well-being. There is a study done by Havva Tel, PhD; Hatice Tel, PhD; and Mehtap Esmek, RN called Quality of Sleep in Hemodialysis where they found that as age increased in patients, sleep quality decreased.  They also found that elderly men are more likely to have sleep problems. “Advanced age and long-term dialysis therapy directly affected patients experiencing sleep problems”.
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  • Anemia. Not having enough red blood cells in your blood (anemia) is a common complication of kidney failure and hemodialysis. When kidneys are diseased or damaged, they do not make enough EPO. As a result, the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells, causing anemia. When blood has fewer red blood cells, it deprives the body of the oxygen it needs. In a hemodialysis treatment, a lot of blood is lost and recovered and this causes anemia as well. When kidneys fail and a hemodialysis takes place, nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid will start to scarce, causing anemia too because they are the nutrients responsible of making  red blood cells to make hemoglobin, the main oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells.

  • Bone diseases. Bone diseases come in a hemodialysis treatment because after you have had chronic kidney disease and you are doing the treatment, the body, more specifically the kidney, cannot process vitamin D, and in turn cannot absorb calcium. As a consequence, your bones may weaken. Also, calcium is released from the bones because the treatment and kidney failure causes overproduction of the parathyroid hormone.

  • High potassium levels (hyperkalemia). One of the functions the kidney has is to remove Potassium from the body and the blood.  If you eat more potassium than recommended, your potassium level may become too high. It can sound a little extreme, but it has been known that too much potassium can cause your heart to stop.

  • Depression. And of course, the last and silent disease. People do not like to be ill and especially from the kidney which gives you that line of defense.  Changes in mood are common in people with kidney failure and some people don’t emotionally react very well to the situation. The best idea is to talk with the health care team about options to treat depression.

It is good to know what will inevitably come from our health treatments. Sometimes avoiding these effects is not an option, but it is an option to be informed and adapt the best way possible.

Find out about advantages and disadvantages of a hemodialysis treatment in this article.