Dialysis is a challenging yet life-sustaining treatment for individuals with weak kidney functions and it can be even more challenging when you realise the diverse range of dialysis patients, each with unique needs and risks. To sort health woes, we collected some valuable insights and tips to help all types of dialysis patients, young and old and help them navigate their journey towards a healthier tomorrow since it is significant to relieve dialysis patients from the constant supervision of doctors and educate them about their safety and survival.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Puneet Bhuwania, Nephrologist at NephroPlus, shared, “Though dialysis service centres have strict infection control measures, patients can observe certain important personal hygiene tips like; washing their hands frequently, following catheter care guidelines diligently and avoiding touching the access site with unclean hands. Stay on top of your prescribed medications, and blood pressure medications. Discuss any concerns or side effects with your healthcare team promptly.”
Knowledge is power.
Dr Puneet Bhuwania advised, “Understand your kidney condition, treatment options and potential complications. Active participation in your care can improve outcomes. Survival strengthens with educating yourself. Build your support system and embrace it. Dialysis can be emotionally and physically taxing. Lean on family, friends, or support groups to share your journey and receive encouragement. Network more with your healthcare team – your nephrologist, dietician, trainer, etc. Indulge in regular check-ups to identify and address any issues early on. Attend all scheduled appointments with your nephrologist and dialysis team.”
Considering the large burden of kids with kidney patients, pediatric dialysis patients especially require meticulous care hence, Dr Puneet Bhuwania revealed, “Some kids are advised to be on dialysis until their kidney functions are improved. But in adverse cases of kidney failures, these kids need dialysis for life; caregivers and parents need to ensure the emotional well-being of these individuals through open communication and age-appropriate explanations of their condition. There is also an alarming report of increased kidney ailment patient count in young individuals owing to dominant factors such as lifestyle, dietary habits, alcoholism, stress etc. Though survival rates of young dialysis patients have improved in the past few decades. However, these individuals are on strict diet and water intake restrictions; also the duration and intensity of their physical activities should be consulted with the doctor.”
He added, “Similarly, the older patient community may have unique challenges like multiple comorbidities. Individualized care plans are prescribed to cater to their specific needs. Patients with diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease need integrated care. Coordinate with specialists and your nephrologist to manage all conditions effectively. Be aware of potential drug interactions between medications for different conditions. Keep a list of all your medications and share it with your healthcare providers. It is also important to consult doctors about medications and symptoms of comorbid and inter-current medical conditions. Life is altogether tougher for people with disabilities. In case of morbidity issues, ask your doctor for innovative dialysis procedures such as home dialysis or check for accessibility in dialysis centres – wheelchair ramps or accessible bathrooms. For some disabled patients, home dialysis may offer more independence. Explore the possibility of peritoneal dialysis (PD) or home hemodialysis (HHD) after consulting with your nephrologist.”
Given that nowadays, modern-age dialysis treatments are highly innovative with improved accessibility and better affordability, Dr Puneet Bhuwania said, “Travelling is never a restriction for dialysis patients unless there is a risk of unprecedented medical issues on their trips. Plan! Inform your nephrologist and dialysis centre about your travel plans well in advance. They can help you find a dialysis centre at your destination. Keep a record of your medications, allergies, and emergency contacts. This can be crucial in case of unexpected medical issues while travelling. Investigate portable dialysis machines or arrange for in-centre dialysis sessions during your trip. Ensure you have enough supplies, including dialysate solution and catheter care items.”
He concluded, “With all the significant tips for the safety and survival of all types of dialysis patients, it is important to learn the most basic ones. Dietary habit is pivotal to sustaining kidney health when on dialysis. Consult with a renal dietitian to create a customized meal plan. Monitor your potassium, phosphorus, and sodium intake to maintain optimal blood chemistry. Stay active and engage in low-impact activities like walking, cycling or swimming can help improve cardiovascular health and overall well-being. Take an active role in your care, and don’t hesitate to seek additional guidance. With dedication and the right approach, dialysis patients can lead fulfilling lives and manage their kidney health effectively. It is essential to be constantly motivated over being disheartened about your medical condition. Dialysis is very common and not scary!”