Thriving on Dialysis
Did you know that a healthy lifestyle can help make your dialysis treatments more effective? Feeling better means doing more—and enjoying more. Read on for simple steps to eat healthy, stay active and manage your weight while on dialysis. Plus, learn tips for making the most of your time during treatment, managing your health and thriving.
Managing Multiple Health Conditions While on Dialysis
Many people treating end stage renal disease (ESRD) with dialysis also have other health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Once you’re started on dialysis treatment, your doctor may need to alter your diet or medications to ensure you are addressing all of your conditions properly. Your treatment team will work with you to make sure your Care Plan encompasses all aspects of your health.
Eating for optimal health
Your nephrologist (kidney doctor) and dietitian will work with you to create a diet plan that addresses all of your nutritional needs. If you’re on dialysis and living with diabetes, you’ll still need to control your blood sugar and test your levels at least twice daily. If you have high blood pressure, you’ll need to cut down on salt—also an important step of dialysis-friendly eating. Sound complicated? Don’t worry. Your dietitian will help you understand how what you eat and drink affects all of your conditions and your treatments. Your nephrologist will also recommend vitamins and supplements.
Your medications matter
Taking commonly prescribed blood pressure medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) may also be part of your therapy to protect your kidney function. As always, be sure to take the medications that have been prescribed by your doctor.
Other conditions to watch out for
Anemia (low blood iron) - Having chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects your body’s ability to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs. Having too few red blood cells is called anemia and can make you feel tired or weak. Taking iron supplements and a medicine called ESA (erythropoiesis-stimulating agents) will help your body make more red blood cells, which helps increase the flow of oxygen.
High cholesterol - Many people with chronic kidney disease also have high cholesterol—which causes a narrowing of the arteries and restricts blood flow. In the first four stages of CKD especially, your doctor may recommend dietary changes, exercise and, possibly, special medications to help lower your cholesterol.
Bone and mineral disease - When your kidneys aren’t working properly, they can’t filter out extra phosphorus in your blood or help supply your body with vitamin D. This imbalance of minerals causes your bones to become weaker and more likely to break. Your doctor will likely ask you to take phosphate binders (medicines that remove phosphate from your blood) and vitamin D.
Smoking - If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, you should consider quitting. Among the many bad effects of smoking or using tobacco, it puts more stress on your heart and other organs, which is extremely dangerous when you have CKD. Some sweet versions of smokeless tobacco also contains molasses, which has high potassium levels and should be avoided.
Wondering exactly what to eat?
Talk to your doctor or dietitian to create a kidney-friendly meal plan to help you eat healthy and thrive on.