If your kidneys are not working properly, you will have to go for dialysis. It may be a long-term treatment, so check out these tips for people on dialysis.

Our kidneys do the important job of removing waste products and excess fluid from our body. If the kidneys stop working properly, there can be a buildup of toxins and waste products in our body. That’s when dialysis is needed. It is not a one-time treatment, as you may need to go to the hospital several times a week. People on dialysis also need to follow a specific diet and restrict their fluid intake. There will be quite a few lifestyle changes, but you don’t need to get overwhelmed. Let us tell you top tips for people on dialysis.

What is dialysis?

The kidneys are the main organs of excretory system of our body and all substances which are required to be removed are excreted in the urine after filtration of blood in our kidneys. Dialysis is a process in which the work of the kidney, in case of kidney or renal failure, is done by a machine, explains nephrologist Dr Mohit Khirbat.

All the by-products of metabolism and waste products such as urea and creatinine are removed from the body by dialysis. There are two main kinds of dialysis — hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. People who develop renal failure due to acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 5 undergo intermittent dialysis until kidney function recovers. Patients with CKD stage 5 with irrecoverable kidney function undergo either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis on a lifelong basis, especially if they cannot undergo a renal transplant.

Intravenous injection in hospital
People in dialysis can lead a normal life. Image courtesy: Freepik

According to a 2020 research published in the Kidney360 journal, the number of people on chronic dialysis in India is about 175,000.

What are the top tips for people on dialysis?

People on dialysis can lead relatively normal lives, although there are some adjustments and considerations they need to make, says the expert.

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1. Follow your treatment plan

Adhering to your dialysis treatment schedule is crucial for managing your condition effectively. Missing treatments can lead to complications and worsen your health.

2. Monitor your fluid intake

Dialysis patients often need to limit their fluid intake to avoid fluid buildup between treatments. Monitoring your fluid intake, including beverages like water, juice, and coffee, can help prevent complications such as swelling and high blood pressure.

3. Follow a kidney-friendly diet

Working with a dietitian to develop a kidney-friendly diet plan can help manage your condition and improve your overall health. This often involves limiting sodium, phosphorus, and potassium intake while ensuring adequate protein and calorie consumption, says Dr Khirbat.

4. Take medications as prescribed

It is essential to take any prescribed medications exactly as directed by your doctor. These medications may include those to manage blood pressure, control phosphate levels, and treat other health conditions.

5. Stay active

Engaging in regular physical activity, as recommended by your doctor. It can help improve your overall health and well-being. It can also help manage conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which are common in people with kidney disease.

6. Monitor your blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the complications of kidney disease and can further cause damage. Monitoring your blood pressure regularly and taking steps to keep it within a healthy range can help protect your kidneys and overall health.

7. Manage stress

Living with a chronic condition like kidney disease and undergoing regular dialysis treatments can be stressful. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through relaxation techniques, exercise, hobbies, or talking to a counselor, can improve your quality of life.

8. Stay informed

Educating yourself about your condition and treatment options can empower you to make informed decisions about your health. Ask questions, stay up-to-date on advancements in kidney care, and actively participate in your treatment plan.

9. Practice good hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands frequently and properly caring for catheters or access sites, can help prevent dialysis-related infections.

10. Stay connected

It is important to build a strong support network of family, friends, and doctors so that they can provide emotional support and practical assistance, as you navigate life with dialysis. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when needed and stay connected with others who understand what you are going through.

Foods to eat and avoid when on dialysis

When on dialysis, it is important to follow a kidney-friendly diet to help manage your condition and prevent complications. Here is a general guideline on foods to eat and avoid –

Foods to eat

  • High-quality protein sources: Include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and plant-based protein sources like tofu and legumes in your diet. These provide essential amino acids without contributing to excessive waste buildup in the body.
  • Low-potassium fruits and vegetables: Opt for fruits and vegetables that are lower in potassium, such as apples, cauliflower, cabbage, and green beans. Be mindful of portion sizes and consider cooking methods like boiling or soaking to reduce potassium content further, says the expert.
  • Low-phosphorus foods: Choose foods that are lower in phosphorus to help prevent complications like bone disease. Examples include white bread, rice, pasta, green beans, peppers, and carrots. Limit intake of high-phosphorus foods like dairy products, nuts, seeds, and processed foods.
  • Limited sodium: Reduce your sodium intake to help manage blood pressure and fluid retention. Choose fresh or minimally processed foods, and avoid adding extra salt to your meals.
  • Healthy fats: Incorporate sources of healthy fats into your diet, such as olive oil. These provide essential nutrients and can help maintain overall health.
  • Controlled fluid intake: Monitor your fluid intake closely and stick to your prescribed limit to avoid fluid overload and swelling. Limiting high-fluid foods like soups, ice cream, and juicy fruits can help manage fluid intake.
Pouring aerated drink
Stay away from aerated drinks if you are on dialysis. Image courtesy: Freepik

Foods to avoid

  • High-potassium foods: Avoid or limit intake of high-potassium foods like bananas, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, and avocados. These can contribute to high potassium levels in the blood, which can be dangerous for people on dialysis, says the expert.
  • High-phosphorus foods: Limit intake of high-phosphorus foods like dairy products, processed meats, nuts, seeds, and aerated drinks. These can contribute to elevated phosphorus levels in the blood, which can lead to complications like bone disease and cardiovascular problems.
  • High-sodium foods: Avoid processed and packaged foods, canned soups, sauces, and salty snacks, as these are often high in sodium. Too much of sodium can lead to high blood pressure as well as fluid retention.
  • Excessive fluid: Limit intake of fluids, including water, juice, soda, and other beverages, to your prescribed amount to prevent fluid overload and swelling.
  • Phosphorus additives: Check food labels for phosphorus additives like phosphoric acid and sodium phosphate, which are commonly found in processed foods. These additives can contribute to elevated phosphorus levels in the blood.

Follow these tips to adjust to life on dialysis in a healthy way.

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