10 Of The Best Tips For Coping With Dialysis

10 Of The Best Tips For Coping With Dialysis

Here at Joe Cosgrove’s blog, we always strive to give you the best information on everything related with kidney disease, renal compensation and topics alike.

10 Of The Best Tips For Coping With Dialysis

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Being on dialysis is tough for you and your loved ones, even if the treatment is a lifesaving procedure and can definitely make you feel better, is not easy to get used to it at first. One of the toughest things of dialysis is the fact that the treatment is not a one time deal, is an ongoing procedure that takes time and effort; this is why today, we bring you some great advice to make the most of it and deal with dialysis without letting it ruin many other positive aspects of your life.

Get actively involved in your treatment

Be another member of your treatment team. Reading about your condition, getting informed and learning about your medication and the equipment being used to treat you are great ways of coping with the fear and anxiety you may experience. Write down questions you may have for your doctors and always talk about your feelings with your loved ones, social workers, psychologist or other specialists that are helping you out during this times. Being well informed is taking responsibility and control over your situation.

Remember you can still enjoy your life

Your daily routines may have to adjust to your new treatment, this is normal and it shouldn’t be a reason to make you feel your entire life has to change. Continuing with your life as normal as possible is the best way to adjust. Talk to your employer and see if you can continue working with some variations to your schedule or try to find a new way to work fewer hours if you are self-employed. You know your limits so don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities.

Continue to exercise or get started

Exercise is great not only for your body but for your mind as well. Always talk to your doctor first so you can choose the exercise program that is right for you. Increasing your endurance and muscle capacity will make it easier for your body to stay healthy and you will be able to have a better quality of life.

Occupy your time wisely as you are on the machine

Idle time makes it difficult sometimes for patients to cope with being on the machine while on dialysis treatment. Use the time wisely to work, read a book or pick up a new hobby that you can engage on while you are waiting. You have to stay still either way, so why not make that time count? It will make a difference for sure.

Take charge of your sleeping patterns

Patients undergoing dialysis treatment usually report having trouble sleeping through the night. Not getting enough sleep can give you headaches, make you irritable and cause you to feel tired during your day. A healthy dose of exercise and avoiding having heavy dinners or eating late at night can help you to get a much-needed full night of sleep.

Your diet is very important

Being on dialysis can actually help you change the way you eat as the diet you should keep during the treatment is something that can benefit just about everyone. A healthy diet helps your body stay clean and get rid of toxins easily, something will also make the treatment a lot more bearable.

Attitude is everything

Keeping a positive attitude is fundamental. Dialysis is something that is helping you live a full life and make you better all together. Accepting the situation and making the best out of it is the way to come out on top. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling if you think you need it and you can’t seem to focus your thoughts on positive things.

10 Of The Best Tips For Coping With Dialysis

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Pay attention to your emotions

Don’t ignore your feelings and seek help if necessary. Getting better is not something that you body does on its own. Health is also an emotional matter, so make sure you talk to those around you who care about you and don’t let your feelings control the situation. Be assertive with your needs and take care of yourself emotionally just like you are doing physically.

Travel if you can

Talk to your doctor about traveling. Understand your limitations and if you are able to go on a trip and get away from everything, do it. Traveling can help you lower your stress and refresh your body and mind. Traveling can be a big boost to morale and greatly raise the quality of life of patients, consider it and do it if you can.

Control your fluid intake

Although this is part of your diet, be mindful of your fluid intake levels and keep them under control to avoid emergency trips to the hospital. If your diet is high on sodium, you will feel thirsty and that will spike your fluid intake. Talk to your doctor about this and always keep it under control.


How to get the best benefit from dialysis

When you suffer from a severe loss of renal function, it is a vital matter to find a way to filter the blood by removing the excess liquid, minerals and wastes that your body doesn’t need. For some people, a kidney transplant is the best option, but sometimes it’s not a possible procedure. Organs may not be available or they simply are not compatible with the patient’s body. In those cases, dialysis is a life support process that replaces this filtering kidney function and helps to maintain the balance. Any doctor will warn you: dialysis is not a cure, and from the moment you start the treatment, you will depend on it until an eventual transplant. Nevertheless, you can get the best benefit from dialysis and live a normal quality life by adopting a positive and healthy lifestyle.

hospital_joe cosgrove_dialysis

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As it was mentioned in previous posts, diet plays a definitive role when it comes to limit waste buildup in the blood. It is particularly important to be careful about what you drink and what you eat when you are on this treatment. Keep in mind that the process may become useless by not following the medical instructions. Every organism is different. At any Dialysis Centre, a specialist can evaluate your needs and dietary restrictions. Dialysis bring a big change in your life, and yes: it includes the amount of proteins, fluids and sodium you can consume in your diet routines.


According to a study by Oxford University, exercising increases the efficiency of dialysis. After studying eleven patients (aged 32-78 years old) on hemodialysis, they discovered that the plasma concentrations of urea, creatinine and potassium decreased when the patients pedaled on a cycle for 5-20 min. The percentages of the concentrations of the patients that sat on the chair as an average control made them conclude that the exercise in dialysis sessions is equivalent to extending the session time by 15-20 min. Why? Because of the rebound of solutes: it reduces considerably when the blood flow increases on the skeletal muscles.

It has become a common practice in United States, Sweden, Germany and Greece. Exercise during dialysis sessions improves the functional capacity of patients, and the symptoms of fatigue and cramps diminish much more compared to the bodies of sedentary patients. The results show that exercise has even a positive impact on the mental health: the ability of care for themselves, the decreased pain and other discomforts associated with kidney failure increased the quality of life of patients.

However, exercise is not an exclusive activity for In-Centre dialysis sessions. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and still you will get the benefits. There are Kidney Walks and Runs all over the globe, for example, which raise awareness and funds lifesaving programs for educating people on kidney failure and cancer. These events support patients, their families and those at risk, and are the perfect excuse for lacing up your walking shoes and know people who care about your problem.

Healthy Kidney_joe cosgrove_dialysis

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Alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs

The consumption of alcohol, any kind of tobacco and illegal drugs, such as ketamine, genetically modified marihuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, affects the function of glomerular filtration rate in a very negative way, sometimes irreversible. The 10% of kidney failures is related to nephrotoxins contained in those substances. This consumption may lead healthy patients to this condition and it worsens the circumstances of those who are already in treatment. Any drug you put into your organism passes through your kidneys, and every one of them causes a different effect. Alcohol, when it’s taken in high doses, makes the kidneys less able to filter the blood and to keep the right amount of water in your body. Most street drugs change the blood pressure and increase the amount of harmful elements that your kidneys remove in normal conditions.

Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and herbs

Your doctor should not only be aware of your medical history when you are on dialysis. He / she must know what medicines you are taking, in case that some of them seriously harm your kidneys (painkillers and some drugs to treat heart diseases, for instance). It is very important to consult him / her before taking any medication, no matter if it’s a natural pill or herb.

Stay positive

A healthy lifestyle requires constant positive choices: eating well, sleeping well, starting an exercise routine, listening to your doctor and leaving behind those bad habits that bring a lot of people here. Positive thoughts help to reduce stress. Keep your morale up by finding and embracing the right motivations: family, passion for what you do, the pursuit of your own goals… Remember that surviving is 50% attitude!

Eat amazing food, and be healthy and happy with your dialysis

Sure, you are on dialysis, and sure, you have to experience some not really pleasant things during this time. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes it is simply uncomfortable. And to all these unpleasant things that you have to experience, you must add another one. Bad food. Or that is what you think. Because probably you tend to think that being on dialysis means that you have to care for your diet a lot, and indeed that is completely true. No one would deny that part of the success of your treatment has to do with the sort of food that you eat. But this does not necessarily entail that you cannot enjoy the food that you eat, and more importantly, that you cannot have meals that you truly enjoy. Meals that may give you the feeling of having had a great dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Healthy Diet_joe cosgrove_dialysis

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Being on dialysis can be seen as an opportunity to find other ways to eat, ways that not only are healthier for you, but also show aspects related to how to enjoy new types of food that you never considered before. Dialysis does not imply that you cannot have a better and even more fulfilling life in this respect. After all, there is a wide variety of kidney-friendly foods and recipes specially thought for your renal diet. The important point is that you take the time, the interest, and particularly the motivation to look for them and try them. You will not be disappointed.

Of course, you must pay attention to your nutrition requirements in order to decide which diet option and what kind of recipes are more appropriate for you. After all, the type of dialysis treatment that you chose will have a direct impact on those nutrition requirements. It is not the same if you choose traditional hemodialysis, which you will have three times a week, frequent hemodialysis, which you will have five to six times a week, or peritoneal dialysis. In each case, your nutrition requirements will be different, and for that reason, it is crucial for your treatment and your health in general that you know them well. In this sense, it is very important for you that you receive proper advice from a dialysis dietitian. During dialysis, your body will change the ways in which it removes waste, and for that reason, you cannot continue having the same kind of diet that you had before. You must change it, and your dietitian may help you to find the best options for you, which need to take into account factors such as your type of dialysis and other related health issues, but also your own preferences regarding food.

Food Balance_joe cosgrove_dialysis

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As a consequence, when you create your diet, and particularly, when you decide which kinds of food and recipes you would like to try, it is important that you keep in mind some general aspects regarding the nutrition requirements that you must fulfill. First of all, do not forget your protein ever. Protein is fundamental for you when you start dialysis, even if you have been told in the past that it is good for you to limit it. Once you start dialysis, you will need to eat more protein than what you used to eat before. Every meal should be very rich in protein for dialysis patients. So, consider including both animal and vegetable protein in your diet. Some of the best sources of animal protein are meat, milk and milk products, egg, poultry, and fish, whereas nuts and legumes (for example, soybean and soybean products, peas, beans, among others) are extraordinary sources of vegetable protein. Of course, each type of protein will have different effects on your body and your treatment, so you should ask your doctor and your dietitian which one may work better for you.

Another tip that you should take into account when considering the type of food and recipes that you would like to try is to eat less salty foods. It is indeed better to forget about salty processed foods, even if you are not on dialysis. Now that you are on it, think about fresh, home-cooked foods, instead of restaurant meals. The latter are usually high in salt, whereas for the former you can decide which low-salt recipes would be better to cook at home. In the same sense, go for foods low in potassium and phosphorus, since it can be difficult for your kidneys to process them. Try vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and zucchini, which are low in potassium. And keep a close eye on dairy foods, since they tend to be quite high in phosphorus. Probably you will still be able to take them, but with moderation.

Nutrition experts_joe cosgrove_dialysis

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Finally, be careful with liquids. Your body can build up fluid if you drink too much, and as a consequence, you may have shortness of breath. So, keep an eye on them.