Is automated peritoneal dialysis recommended?

Many patients who need a dialysis treatment to control kidney failure must decide between two options. The first one, best-known as ‘hemodialysis,’ is the first image that pops into the minds of people when it comes to dialysis. This procedure consists of connecting the patient to a machine that fulfills the same functions as the kidneys: filtering the blood and eliminating the excess of fluids from the body. For this reason, it is necessary that patients go a couple of times a week to a hospital or to a specialized center, and lay down while the machine does its work. This is not the only option, though. There is also peritoneal dialysis. Despite this treatment does not differ essentially from hemodialysis, offers certain conveniences to patients that hemodialysis cannot allow. One of them is that patients do not have to plug into a machine or move to a hospital for doctors to monitor their health status.

Automated peritoneal dialysis is fundamentally not different from traditional peritoneal dialysis. This system uses the same type of catheters, and the kidney function is carried out in the same way. The difference is related the way in which the process is carried out. In automated peritoneal dialysis, a machine controls the development of the renal function. This means how much liquid gets into the bag and is ejected when the filtration process is over. In this way, patients do not have to worry about how much liquid they have added to the bag, and the machine is responsible for reminding patients when they should start a cycle in advance.

The filtering process takes about eight hours, but it may extend to ten, especially when patients are sleeping. One of the functions of the machine, in addition to calculating the amount of liquid that gets into the bag, is measuring the time of infusion, permanence, and drainage, and in a very safe way, which gives a lot of peace to both patients and doctors.

Read also: Dialysis most common complications, by Joe Cosgrove

The machines used for this procedure are not large. The biomedical engineering that has worked been behind the studies of automated peritoneal dialysis has made these machines fit in a small suitcase, which, although it may be heavy, has wheels and can be carried anywhere. The machine can be used almost anywhere (an airplane, for example.) One of the great advantages of this system is that the machine keeps a record of the activity from the beginning of the treatment, which can be observed by the doctor even without the patient moving to the hospital. This system is connected to the Internet. This means, in a few words, that the machine is permanently gathering information from the patient and transmitting it through the cloud. The doctor only has to use a device with an Internet connection to check the patient’s condition (it may be an app in his or her smartphone.)

The latter is a great advantage for doctors because the patient does not have to make any report. The system is responsible for producing the necessary information for the doctor to evaluate the patient’s conditions. Even some software systems are designed so that the machine tells the doctor if the patient is presenting problems that must be resolved urgently (the first symptoms of peritonitis, for example) and that patients may not detect in time, meaning this a great danger to their health.

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Image courtesy of Amber Case at Flickr.com

Automated peritoneal dialysis, in addition to being very useful for the health of patients, is also useful for medical research in this field. Because the number of patients suffering from kidney failure increases every year, doctors are very concerned about finding new ways to solve this problem. For this, it is tremendously important to have a large amount of information available.

Some doctors wonder if this system is recommended. The truth is that it is. There are studies showing that automated peritoneal dialysis is related to a much higher survival rate than the traditional peritoneal dialysis system. The reason for this is that the machines can calculate much more accurately the amounts of liquid that the patients need, as well as the filtering and expulsion times. The medical community knows that the more customized the treatments, the results will be much better since every organism is different and may react differently to the general conditions of any treatment. This is the case. On the other hand, one of the main problems that occur in peritoneal dialysis are infections, which has been resolved in a large percentage thanks to automation and its monitoring. The behavior of blood pressure is also another problem, and the study mentioned above shows that medical science is ready to reduce this issue to almost the minimum. There is still much to be discovered in terms of peritoneal dialysis, but the truth is that it is progressing so fast thanks to the data provided by patients. Let’s hope for the best.

Recommended: Do Automated Peritoneal Dialysis and Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis Have the Same Clinical Outcomes?

* Featured Image courtesy of Franck Genten at Flickr.com

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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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Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

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

Physical activity for dialysis patients

Joe Cosgrove has previously covered renal compensation and dialysis thoroughly from different angles; however, one common thing dialysis patients wonder is whether they can perform physical activities during and after the treatment. The truth is, the vast majority of dialysis patients firmly believe they cannot execute any physical activity or exercise; nonetheless, research has shown that actually, they can. Many out of those patients have previously described their first physical activities as something that helped them feel normal again shortly after starting their dialysis treatment. As asserted by various physicians, the act of motion and exercise, regardless of length and intensity, helps those individuals with chronic kidney disease feel much better and stronger, and subsequently more in control of their bodies and their health.

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Image courtesy of Burst at Pexels.com

Many out of those patients have previously described their first physical activities as something that helped them feel normal again shortly after starting their dialysis treatment. As asserted by various physicians, the act of motion and exercise, regardless of length and intensity, helps those individuals with chronic kidney disease feel much better and stronger, and subsequently more in control of their bodies and their health.

The medical community, especially those who specialize in working with renal rehabilitation have found that exercising on a regular basis, carefully, of course, not only improves an individual’s potential for future and more intense physical activity but also does wonders regarding the overall quality of life for those undergoing the dreary process. It is well known that exercise may also come in handy for gaining back the ability to carry out activities that were part of people’s routines prior to starting the treatment. Of course, this also has a huge impact on an emotional level: whether it is returning to the office or taking over domestic chores, patients basically agree upon the fact that exercise has given them back a part of themselves that was somewhat lost.

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Image courtesy of Julie at Flickr.com

Thus, with that being said, for all those individuals who are currently undergoing dialysis, any kind of controlled and supervised physical activity is highly recommended; however, before recklessly jumping into action, it is advisable to consider the following aspects:

Consult your physician

When it comes to delicate medical conditions, addressing the primary physician is key. Doctors are the first source of information about what kind of physical activity can be done depending on the patient’s current stage of the treatment. In fact, physicians often feel happy for those patients who show eagerness to work out and improve their overall health. Measures often include several recommendations such as consulting a physical therapist as well in order to avoid falling victim of any possible injury. Meal plans and controlled diets are always advisable.

Alongside their primary physician and their physical therapist, patients undergoing dialysis can make their current stage more fun and enjoyable—which ends up providing a tremendous positive effect on the patient’s body and mind.

Choose the physical activity and exercise you like the most

Most patients are used to taking long walks. Walking, in fact, is perhaps one of the least demanding and strenuous exercises people can do; yet it is also one of the healthiest ways of keeping a good physical condition. Taking a walk provides several benefits and helps various corporal functions at the same time: it improves the patient’s digestion, increases their energy levels, reduces their bad cholesterol levels, controls their blood pressure, lowers the risk of having a cardiovascular condition, helps them sleep much better and, most importantly, helps fade away those high-stress levels.

Start!

It is undeniable that undergoing dialysis takes a toll on every patient: the vast majority of those individuals who are currently on dialysis oftentimes agree upon the fact that they always feel exhausted and too tired to exercise, and, subsequently, they firmly believe that adding extra activity to their already demanding routines will leave them even more tired. The truth is, even a little-controlled amount of physical activity, let us say 20 to 25 minutes a day, has proven to help patients feel less exhausted. Doing otherwise—not exercising—actually makes people fall victim of those unwanted low energy levels: the longer they postpone any kind of physical activity, the weaker they will feel.

One of the most renowned side effects of suffering from kidney failure is muscle loss. This simply means that those individuals who are currently undergoing dialysis are more likely to lose muscle mass. Exercise, however, helps keep the muscle from shrinking. In fact, there is the chance to bring it back!

Always stretch

As mentioned above, the common denominator of those undergoing dialysis is a constant weakness. People are simply too tired to do basically anything; however, stretching prior to any kind of physical activity has proven to do wonders; besides, it is practically something all dialysis patients can do: it is the perfect way to get blood to those stiff body parts. Stretch both lower and upper body prior and after exercising, as it reduces the chances of suffering from cramps and other unwanted and unsolicited pains. Of course, the key here is to mind the pace, meaning: start slowly. There is no need to become the ultimate athlete to have a good and effective workout. Exercise at a controlled pace and improve over time. It will definitely pay off!

* Featured Image courtesy of Burst at Pexels.com