How to avoid starting dialysis sooner than expected

Although Joe Cosgrove has previously mentioned that starting dialysis is not the end of the world—in fact, he addressed the topic from different points of view including one major concern: how can individuals and patients under dialysis get the most out of life once they start the treatment?—. Many people fear that they will have to quit their jobs, or that they will have to dramatically change their lifestyles. The truth is, the onset of dialysis can be delayed to some extent. And although it is very tough to be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, if patients are diagnosed in the early stages of such condition, there certain steps and measures they can take to get the most out of their kidneys and prolong kidney function.

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Following a physician’s advice, it is possible to still enjoy a healthy life even with kidney disease. Following adequate and good health practices, staying on the job and continuing to enjoy other leisure activities and social events are ways an individual can overcome the apparent lack of control of their condition. Additionally, aside from following a physician’s advice in order to avoid starting dialysis sooner that expected, having a job with a solid health insurance helps provide security and other health benefits.

One thing is still certain: there are a plethora of causes that may cause chronic kidney disease; however, there is also a myriad of recommendations that, if followed properly, can help an individual delay kidney failure—which is what leads to dialysis and kidney transplant.

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease in North America and other western countries are diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases have always been on the rise in the American country, which has also caused an increase in the number of patients who suffer from certain chronic kidney disease. The first step, of course, to control any type of CKD is by controlling the aforementioned conditions.

Diabetes and how to extend kidney function

People who suffer from diabetes need to mind their blood glucose levels. There is no shortcut. Blood glucose levels must be kept in an adequate range in accordance with physicians recommend. Additionally, hemoglobin A1C should be below 6.5%. And, of course, patients suffering from early stage chronic kidney disease need to have their kidneys tested at least once a year.

Research has shown that certain high blood pressure medicines are able to protect the kidneys of those who also suffer from diabetes, even they also have normal blood pressure levels.

The high blood pressure scenario

Individuals with high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—, should consult with their primary physician in order to get their blood pressure medicine. As recommended by the The National Heart and Blood Institute, it is recommended to have blood pressure under control (at 120/80 or even lower for those who have early stage kidney disease. For those who suffer from diabetes, blood pressure should be around 130/85.

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Other diseases commonly associated with chronic kidney disease

Aside from the previously mentioned diseases, there are several other conditions that can lead to suffering from chronic kidney disease: glomerulonephritis and lupus, for instance. These diseases affect the immune system, causing it to overact, which ends up affecting the kidneys (due to inflammation). In order to slow down the pace at which the kidneys deteriorate under these circumstances, a physician can prescribe certain medicines such as steroids.

Chronic kidney disease is also a direct consequence of certain infections and other medicines that happen to be detrimental to the organs. Infections, for instance, can be wiped out through the controlled used of antibiotics; certain medications, such as painkillers or antibiotics cause a negative impact on the kidneys: patients with these conditions need to be straightforward with their physicians about their CKD prior to initiating other treatments in hopes of avoiding a worse condition and prevent further damage.

Prolonging kidney function

Irrespective of how an individual develops chronic kidney disease, there are certain steps people can take in hopes of prolonging kidney function. Smoking, for example, is known for having a direct impact and correlation with the progression of kidney disease, therefore, and simply put, it is recommended that those with early stage kidney disease stop spending their money on cigarettes and tobacco. Of course, adopting a healthy diet, losing weight and working out are crucial activities that can act in the betterment of kidney condition. People with high blood pressure should also limit sodium in their diets: physicians believe that avoiding a certain amount of phosphorus and protein may also slow down the pace at which kidneys deteriorate; however, research continues on other foods—and even medicines—to see whether they act in the best interest of the health of the patient.

It is also important to remember that every CKD is unique. It is best to first address a physician and work out on a plan to prevent and slow down the disease while getting the most of life. It is perfectly possible.

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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.

4 Big benefits of having dialysis treatments at home

We have talked a lot of all the types of dialysis and how they help patients with their kidney diseases. There has always been a myth or a wrong belief that dialysis and all other procedures are best taken at the hospital or dialysis center. The reasons are many and economical facts also come into play. But the idea of having such treatment at home could come as quite a surprise to many and as a contradiction to others. Moreover, patients that pay regular visits to the dialysis center see how their lives are reduced to these trips and these treatments. Maybe the centers have the machines needed, but for patients to travel every day to the center is a problem in itself, and this makes the patient strain their lives and at the same time strain the lives of people around them.

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So, in real life, what are the benefits of having dialysis at home? Are they just myths or do they really work towards helping the patient’s health and life in the long run? Well, to answer that question today we are going to take a look at 4 of the top benefits that home dialysis has for patients and how it has become more user-friendly, makes a patient feel better about themselves, and it gives them more flexibility and control over their lives. We are not saying that one treatment is better than other since there is no strong evidence to support that, but what we are saying is that home dialysis does have many benefits that can improve the patient’s lifestyle.

The results of home dialysis

The first and very important benefit is that patients see how their results improve with time.   When the patients are at home, the treatment becomes more human thus it has better results. Also, when people choose to take their dialysis treatments at home, they can do it in the most comfortable way and can do it more frequently and for shorter periods of time. The results are better because frequent dialysis more closely mimics how the kidneys work, so with a good periodicity for the treatments the waste that accumulates in the body is less so the treatment is cleaner and works properly as a normal kidney would work.  It has been seen that home dialysis helps lower mortality rates, does not have so many side effects and the overall results are better. Also, the patient feels very happy and has a good quality of life since they can have all the benefits of the dialysis without interrupting their lives so much.

Time for yourself

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Fortunately for many of us, we haven’t had the chance to go to treatments to a center almost every day. Even for physical therapy, it becomes annoying going every day to the same place for the same amount of hours. Apart from that, understanding that you are sick or your life is at risk and having to control that is too much to take for one person.

Well, another benefit a patient can get from home dialysis is that they have time to do whatever they want and are capable of.  Going to a center or hospital means taking out 5 or 6 hours of your day and patients that are on dialysis far from home miss out on their friends and family, hobbies or anything they like to do in their leisure time. With home dialysis, all these things are not issues anymore because patients can talk on the phone, have visitors, watch TV and play with their loved ones all from the comfort of their house. Also, changing the landscape from clinic to the house is also a good way to make all the treatments more enjoyable.  

Reduction of transportation expenses

Take a minute to think how much you spend on travel expenses. Is it to your office, house, company or just errands you have to do? Now, imagine you have to go to a hospital every single day and pay for two bus fares or spend the gas on your car every day to go to the dialysis center. Not even mentioning that maybe your dialysis center is very far from home. Now include food and lunch and many other drinks you need. That amounts to a lot of money every month. So, the other benefit of home dialysis is that you save in travel expenses, car maintenance and many other things that add up to the already large bill of having a kidney disease.   

Understanding the disease

It seems impossible that people learn more from home than in a clinic, but it is true. Patients that choose to do dialysis at home get more involved in their treatments and have a better understanding of their health and how their body reacts. So they are less likely to have depression or fear and most of the times they have a more positive approach to life.  

Be sure to also read this post to see if homeopathy is a good idea to treat kidney disease?

* Featured Image courtesy of Dan at Flickr.com