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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Coming Back From Kidney Disease: Are You Ready to Work Again?

As per discussed in older posts by Joe Cosgrove, kidney disease, and renal failure, although imply a really hard time for patients, still leave room for them to get the most out of life. One of the biggest issues that concern the vast majority of renal failure and dialysis patients is whether or not they are able to work and perform their old labor duties.

As a matter of fact, many people with chronic kidney disease or renal failure manage to work either full time or part time. Moreover, some of them even go to school or are able to take care of their families and homes. Others prefer to perform volunteer work while still enjoying their hobbies: they go out with peers or even have regular workout and exercise routines. But since these types of conditions come with a heavy burden for those who suffer from them, it is no less than understandable to see patients wondering about whether or not they are ready to work.

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Here are some of the questions that patients ask the most about the possibility continuing to work while on treatment or suffering from any type of kidney disease:

I had a job prior to suffering kidney disease. Can I go back to work?

Most patients, especially those who start dialysis or undergo a transplant want to go back to work almost immediately. Some assert that it helps them feel like they are getting their lives back to what they consider normal, whereas others may take some time to recover from the fallout of the treatment or the post-operatory in case they underwent a kidney transplant surgery.

I am currently employed, can I just continue working while on treatment?

Some dialysis patients manage to work full time soon after they start the treatment. Others, due to the nagging consequences of the treatment, decide to rather take either a part-time or remote work. What seems to be clear, is that dialysis patients prefer to take jobs that are not as physically demanding as their older ones. In fact, working from home with a flexible schedule seems to be the best option, as patients are required to go to hemodialysis from time to time.

Whichever the case, patients should be able to talk to their employers about possible changes and conditions that can help them continue working while on treatment. And this is particularly important since employers likely ignore what kidney disease is about and its implications, therefore, addressing concerns about the job is perhaps the wisest thing to do.

As a matter of fact, doctors are often willing to talk to the patient’s employer to explain and address their condition. Employers will obviously have concerns about the possible limitations, which is why having the doctor address these concerns really come in handy.

Am I protected against labor discrimination?

There are several acts that protect people with some kind of disability from labor and job discrimination. Being fired or being denied a promotion due to some kind of condition or illness is entirely protected by the Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act.

Employers often ask for medical certification stating that the patient indeed suffers from a specific condition, and cannot under any circumstances fire or force employees to resign simply because they require surgery or treatment.

How do I know if I am ready to work?

Of course, health should always be the patient’s top priority. Prior to recklessly going back to work—ignoring medical recommendations—, patients must decide whether they feel physically and mentally strong to take on their duties again. This process, of course, should always be accompanied by medical rehabilitation.

People with kidney disease or renal failure often go through the following rehabilitation process: first, they need to get themselves back to a much healthier physical overall state; second, they have got to convince themselves that, although they suffer from these diseases, there is still room for positivity; third, they need to start feeling confident and ok around peeps, coworkers and relatives; and fourth, they need to learn how to self-manage themselves to regain their productivity.

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As previously recommended, accompanying rehabilitation with physical activity is tremendously beneficial and will help patients achieve the aforementioned goals much easier. Volunteering and helping other go through the same process also provides a sense of productivity and will definitely help them gain back the skills that could unquestionably help them get a job in the future. The whole idea is to not let the disease impair the patient’s mental state, for, although these conditions imply difficult times, the spirit is everything. There is always another opportunity and there is always a chance to get the most out of life even while on dialysis or treatment: imagination and the will to live is key.

How dialysis works in developing countries

Currently, we are facing a situation where many people in the world are suffering from kidney-related diseases. In fact, according to the National Kidney Foundation, at least 10% of the global population suffers from chronic kidney disease, and at least two million people receive dialysis treatment nowadays. Sadly, most of the patients who actually have access to dialysis treatment are those who live in developed countries. Those who live in developing countries not always have access to the treatment, and when they do it is often unsatisfying.

It is not a secret that for those patients who have end stage renal disease or ESRD, dialysis becomes the only alternative to survive before actually thinking about getting a kidney transplant. However, if you are living in a developing country and don’t have the resources to pay for private treatment, your chances of being properly treated can run really low.

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Poverty, ignorance and the lack of medical resources are some of the most common elements that affect the possibilities patients have to access dialysis. Even sometimes, when patients have the chance to pay for a better treatment, this is not available in their region and there is little or nothing they can do about it once they are sick.

So, why all this happens? In this article, we will explore the main factors related to the way dialysis treatment takes place in developing countries. All this keeping in mind that many of the patients who need dialysis in these countries actually don’t know about it. This happens either because they cannot afford to go to the doctor, their healthcare systems are also poor, their records are not properly kept, or simply because they lack the will or intention to go to the doctor under these unpleasant circumstances.

Let’s take a look to some of the most important issues that affect the way patients who need dialysis treatment are actually treated in developing countries.

High costs

This is the most obvious and common factor related to many things that don’t operate properly in developing countries. When it comes to treating ESRD patients, healthcare providers face a critical situation because their ethics tells them they should treat the patients properly. However, the financial capacity keeps them away from actually doing so.

Setting and running a dialysis unit is rather expensive. Even though every country in the world has patients with kidney disease among its population, not many institutions have the needed resources to start a dialysis unit. Besides, when these dialysis units are actually set, they will need to keep on growing and being properly maintained. This also implies expenses related to the unit’s operation that many institutions can’t afford.

Machine problems

Let’s say that the dialysis unit was created. All the machines in it will need to be properly taken care of in order for it to be sustainable. Most times, the machines that are kept in good shape remain in the cities, where technicians and medical equipment companies are located at. This leaves the poorest areas of developing countries aside. Therefore, people who live in the areas (which also happen to be the poorest) has little or no chances to access the dialysis services.

Another problem related to dialysis machines is that they are not always enough to treat all the patients. In addition, the available machines are not often functioning and present multiple problems like breakdowns, missing parts, or obsolete systems. All this is being considered also keeping in mind that in some low-income areas power can also be off.

Staff problems

Problems related to machines are not the only ones to come. We also need to keep in mind that in order to use one of these dialysis machines, we need to count on the help of a prepared staff member, who knows how to use the machine.

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Here we face bigger problems because sometimes there are not properly educated individuals who know how to operate the dialysis machines and when there are, wages are usually not enough for them to make a living out of it.

All this crisis happens because many of the dialysis units depend on the state. Public hospitals and public health care facilities are often poorly financed in developing countries, which makes it hard for the ideal staff to work at these places and operate dialysis units. As a consequence of this, many units need to close because they don’t have the required staff to work at them, and once they are restructured, they can be opened again.

It is important to keep in mind, that matter how poor a country is, the motivation of people to work is usually directly related to the amount of money that is being paid to them. If there are no resources to cover up for the staff expenses, then there won’t be enough or well-prepared people to work at dialysis units.

Related: The Most Common Questions Patients Have About Dialysis by Joe Cosgrove

* Featured Image courtesy of Albert González Farran, UNAMID at Flickr.com