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How Will Dialysis Affect Your Life

Introduction

Almost all patients with kidney disease dread the time when they need to start regular dialysis. It is understandable that this phase of life is met with much uncertainty and even some will get depression just from the thought of starting dialysis.

Yet, it is not all gloomy when that time comes and for most, they will realize that they will need to make some adjustments to life in order to move on.

Will my activities be restricted?

If you are on hemodialysis, the times that you have to come for dialysis will restrict activities on certain days as your dialysis schedule is 3 times a week. However the dialysis unit will, in most circumstances, try their best to accommodate your preferred time.

If you are on Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD), you will be able to dialyze in almost any situation, as long as you follow strict hygiene conditions as you were taught.

If you are on Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD), you can bring the machine with you wherever you are.

Will my diet be affected?

Yes. Your kidneys are not able to get rid of enough waste products and fluids from your blood and your body now has special needs, you will need to limit fluids and change your intake of certain foods in your diet. You will also need to watch the fluid content in the food you take.
Dialysis will help you to relieve some of the symptoms you feel but it cannot replace completely the function of your own kidneys. That is why you still need to follow dietary restrictions while on dialysis. There will be a renal diet you need to follow strictly. The doctors and dietician will advise you on the type of diet you need to follow.

Can I still work?

Yes, you can. You will need to make some changes to daily schedule to accommodate the need for dialysis but you should be able to continue working.

Can I travel?

Yes you can. If you are on hemodialysis, you can still travel outstation or overseas. In this situation, you need to make special arrangements with the place you are visiting in order to continue your dialysis treatment.

If you are on CAPD or APD, you can bring the fluids/machine with you for exchange. You will need to find a clean place for your treatment exchange. If you are traveling overseas, arrangements can be made to send fluids/machine to your destination at the time of your arrival.

Can I play sports?

Yes, you can be physically active and in fact, it is encouraged that all patients should have regular exercise. However, active contact sport is not encouraged.

Can I have a baby?

Yes. There have been reports of successful pregnancies for patients on dialysis. However, please do discuss with your doctor if you do intend to get pregnant.

What are some of the challenges I can expect to find?

Emotionally you may have to deal with your reaction to your illness.  There may be anger, resentment, denial and depression. Please do seek support from your family, friends, fellow patients and doctors.

Some may find a lowered sexual drive a problem.  Please seek medical advice.

Others resent feeling tired all the time.  However, when you are well dialyzed, these feelings of tiredness will go away.  In fact, there are some patients that go about their daily life totally unperturbed by their need for dialysis.

What must I do to stay healthy on dialysis?

  • Come for every dialysis treatment.
  • Stay for the entire dialysis treatment duration.
  • Follow the prescribed diet as much as possible. This means that you likely will need to avoid drinking too much fluid.
  • Avoid eating too much salt, potassium and phosphorus. Speak to a dietitian about this.
  • Take all of your medications exactly as prescribed.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Watch over and manage your stress.
  • Stay close to others. Social support helps.
  • Watch for and seek help with depression.
  • If you smoke, smoke less or consider quitting.

 

Last Reviewed : 5 June 2016
Writer : Dr. Loh Chek Loong
Accreditor : Y. Bhg. Dato’ Dr. Tan Chwee Choon

 

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