How To Make The Transition To Your Life On Dialysis

Undergoing dialysis treatment is something that will definitely change your life. As we have mentioned here on numerous occasions at Joe Cosgrove’s blog, living with dialysis has a lot to do with adjusting to the new definition of what you consider normal in your daily routine and the way you look at life in general. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that everything you enjoy doing has to stop because of your treatment and that you simply have to adjust to a life that excludes you from things like traveling, eating anything you want and working like everyone else. Dialysis simply becomes part of who you are and the way you go about those activities that bring you joy is just a bit different, even more fulfilling at times.

FAMILY

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One of the biggest challenges of living with dialysis is probably one of the things that has to do the least with the treatment itself, and that is accepting it. Dialysis is a big word that conjures up images of sickness, needles, hospitals and pain; most of that has to do with a bad reputation that it has acquired over the years and just the ignorance sported by the general population when it comes to kidney disease. These types of treatment exist to make you better and every single day there are brilliant minds and large amounts of resources working hard at advancing this processes even more with the aid of cutting-edge technology in an attempt to give patients a better quality of life and a warmer acceptance of what living with dialysis means.

Today on our blog, we want to talk a little about the beginning of your life with dialysis and what you should expect in the first couple of months while you get used to it so you can make the best out of this challenging time in your life.

Understand the alternative

Dialysis is a relatively new treatment and before that, there was nothing that you could do for patients with kidney failure, something that pretty much meant that you were looking forward to an extreme decline of your health and most likely dying from your condition. Today dialysis can not only keep you alive, but it can do with while giving you a considerable quality of life as it becomes such a manageable part of you, that you will simply come to live with it seamlessly.

The dialyzer has limits

The machine that is helping you clean your blood during the dialysis treatment is not a magical device that can completely replace your kidneys. Kidneys are truly remarkable organs and are able to withstand a lot of damage before failing, they are truly irreparable and no machine exists that can do what they do as well as they do it. Understanding that is crucial for you to realize that while internally there isn’t much else you can do to help your kidneys other than undergoing the treatment, externally there is a lot you can do to compensate for the dialyzer shortcomings. Things like eating healthy, exercising and taking care of yourself so as to alleviate the stress your body has to go through are great ways to making sure that all your efforts are directed towards making the treatment work as well as it possibly can.

Find ways to make yourself comfortable

Yes, you are just lying down and reading or watching TV waiting for the treatment to be over, but as you are apparently relaxed and not doing much, your body is working overtime dealing with everything that is going on. Your blood is being extracted, cleaned and then pumped back into your body constantly during a session that may last up to four hours, this means that your body has to take all these in and push itself to compensate. It is very common to feel tired even if you think you did nothing during the day. Give your body time to get used to the changes.

Lean on your support network

Give the people in your life who care about you the opportunity to be there with you and to participate in whichever way you think it will make the process easier for you. Those around are also affected in their own way, so make sure you don’t neglect this support network and allow it to help you get through the tough times. People in the dialysis community are also very supportive of new members and will answer your questions and take you in if you need anything. You should take advantage of their experience and knowledge dealing with dialysis and even share with them the ways that you are making it work for yourself. Remember you are not alone in this and the condition can be a bonding experience with your family, friends and other loved ones.

Everything You Need to Know About Pediatric Dialysis

As Joe Cosgrove has already pointed out in previous articles, having kidney disease means that your kidneys are not properly working and are not able to filter blood anymore like they should. When this condition gets worst it is known as end-stage renal disease or ESRD and needs to be treated with dialysis.

Pediatric Emergency Department

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Most people think that ESRD only affects adults since their bodies are more deteriorated. However, ESRD also affects children. At least 1,462 children in the United States need to start dialysis treatment every year. Most of these children have congenital disorders (33%), have damaged kidneys due to glomerular disease (24,6%), or need to go on dialysis because they have glomerulonephritis (12,9%).

When we talk about adults, the most common causes of kidney failure are related to high blood pressure or diabetes. Nevertheless, when we talk about children, kidney disease is rarely related to those two conditions and it is often caused as a side effect of other treatments or because they have a hereditary condition that may affect their urinary tract.

Treating Children with ESRD in the United States

Every year over 10,000 children is treated for ESRD in the United States. Most of these children use hemodialysis as it is less invasive and easier to adapt to their bodies. This is how, every year 56 percent of these children are treated with hemodialysis and the rest just go under peritoneal dialysis, have kidney transplants or take alternative treatments.

At least 1,300 children are listed for kidney transplant every year. Over the past 20 years, this number seems to have grown dramatically since kidney diseases have become more popular among the U.S. population.

This is how treatments and medical procedures for children have also evolved. Technology has done major improvements and filtering membranes and catheters are now meant to be used in children, so their size is smaller, sometimes they are more resistant and flexible.

At first, there were many side effects related to hemodialysis in children. However, this seems to have been controlled over the past two decades. Now the morbidity rates during dialysis have considerably decreased and it is less common to experience seizures as a side effect during the treatment. The already mentioned medical advances have made it easier for children to deal with such an invasive procedure, so hypotensive episodes are quite uncommon nowadays.

A sensitive treatment

Saddest Pediatric Patient

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Two decades ago it was common for a dialysis patient to say that it was feeling pain or discomfort during the treatment. Keeping in mind that children’s bodies are more sensitive and fragile, dialysis procedures are less painful and discomforting today. The catheters used during the entire dialysis process are internal, making it impossible for children to remove it without helps. Besides, anesthetic creams are used to puncture the patient.

More sensitive and less invasive technologies have also been developed in order to reduce dramatic effects such as morbidity. These technologies can also reduce healthcare costs, making it simpler for the health care providers too.

Synthetic materials used in children are biocompatible and have a smaller size. This way, tubing and other processes related to pediatric dialysis are easier on the infant’s body. Diameter and length of tubes have been reduced so they can fit the patient’s veins. This way, the volume of filtered blood is going to be adequate both for having a successful a treatment and taking care of the child’s needs.

Machines used in pediatric dialysis are also special ones, so blood pumping is normal compared to the one that happens during the treatment adults get. Most dialysis machines used with children are designed to meet their needs and be used with pediatric patients.

The speed used when the blood is pumped in children is slower than in adults and needs to be kept that way since the capacity of patients to output blood is different and veins could be cloaked. For this reason, children need to be monitored during the entire dialysis session. Machines are always designed in a way that it is easier for healthcare providers to be in control of the dialysis process during the entire time.

Related: Is dialysis always recommendable?

Hemodialysis

Since children with ESRD will need to be exposed to dialysis for a long period, hemodialysis needs to be seen as a whole and not as a mere step of kidney disease therapy. Dialysis in children should be seen as a temporary thing. This happens because if the patient is feeling better then it will stop the treatment and if things complicate and the kidneys completely fail, then the pediatric patient will need to get a kidney transplant.

When patients have the chance to heal, then hemodialysis enables the chances for patients to improve their condition, while they can keep having a normal life. This treatment can often affect children’s physiologically when it is done in the long term, so it is recommended to give some kind of support to children while they are going through dialysis treatment.

Dispelling The Most Common Myths About Kidney Disease

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease amongst the general population is around 14 percent. Out of the 661,000 Americans who have kidney failure, 468,000 approximately are undergoing dialysis treatment and 193,000 individuals live today with a functioning kidney transplant. These numbers can perhaps help us dismiss one of the most common myths surrounding kidney disease, and that is that this illness is rare and uncommon in today’s society.

The Stethoscope_joe cosgrove_medicine_Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis

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Today here in Joe Cosgrove’s Blog, we want to take some time to talk about some of the most common misconceptions behind kidney disease and what it means if you are diagnosed with renal failure. As it happens with many diseases, people are often misinformed and misguided about their expectations and their personal involvement into their own treatment and the expectancy of quality of life.

Kidneys are specialized organs in the body with the function of removing excess water and waste material from the blood and expelling them through urine. There are many reasons why kidneys may become damaged or suffer an overload of stress as their function is taxing and extremely important in context with how many systems of the human body operate.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions behind kidney disease and its treatments.

You can easily tell if you have it.

The truth is that the large majority of people who have kidney disease are completely unaware of it. This happens because, in the early stages of the disease, symptoms are mostly nonexistent. The irony of this is that your best defense against kidney disease lays on early detection, but by the time the signs and symptoms are abundantly clear, then the disease is probably reaching a very advanced stage. Our recommendation for early detection is to get tested early if you are a person with a propensity for kidney disease due to your own health or if kidney disease is common in your family.   

There is little you can do to prevent it

There are many things you can do to prevent kidney disease before you get it and even after you have been diagnosed. A healthy diet and a regular dose of exercise goes a long way not only preventing from stressing your kidneys unnecessarily but also helping you with your overall health in general. Regular over the counter pain medication is particularly taxing on your kidneys. It is common for people to abuse this type of over the counter medicine because it is so easily available and because we have a bad habit of taking it for everything. Remember that your kidneys perform a difficult function so any help you can give them from your end will go a long way on making sure they remain healthy.

If you are urinating fine, then you are probably OK

While changes in your urine and in the way your body reacts when you are peeing are the most common indicators of kidney health, they are not the only signals when something is wrong. Even if your kidneys are damaged, they may continue to pass urine without any pain or changes in color while not filtering your blood properly. There are other symptoms like fatigue; swelling and joint pain that could raise a red flag and indicate you should probably get tested. Remember that a family history of kidney disease is a reason to be concerned if you have any doubts.

Doctor and Patient

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Dialysis is painful

Patients undergoing dialysis talk about the physical feeling more in the terms of “discomfort” rather than “pain”. While it may be a bit uncomfortable, the new technologies and the advances in health treatment can ensure that they pain you have to experience is minimal and only while you get used to the treatment, something that happens rather quickly. Pain is not something you should seriously consider when thinking about dialysis because it is a factor you can pretty much ignore as negligible.

Your diet is going to be strict and boring

This is a rumor born out of pure ignorance. You have to take control of your own health and talk with your nutritionist to come up with a change to your eating habits and find foods that can be good for you while being tasty and easy to prepare. Changes to your diet may be necessary but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice eating all the food you love. You just have to become smarter about the way you treat your body and be more conscious about what you eat. That is something we can all used a little bit of.

I cannot travel on dialysis

Patients on dialysis are able to travel normally as long as they play things out accordingly. It isn’t difficult to find treatment centers where you are going and schedule appointments in advanced. There are also great new alternatives that can let you take your equipment with you and receive the treatment wherever you want.