How to Avoid Painful Kidney Stones

March 16, 2019

How to Avoid Painful Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can cause intense discomfort, but there are some steps people can take to prevent them, including staying hydrated, managing their weight, and altering their diet.

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form when urine becomes concentrated. This causes the minerals to crystallize, which forms tiny pebbles in your urinary tract. They are incredibly painful, but also very preventable and treatable.

Kidney stones can lead to increased rates of kidney disease or cause unpleasant infections. However, when they’re identified and treated in a timely fashion, they’re not likely to cause lasting damage. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of kidney stones as soon as possible.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Kidney Stones

When stones first form in the kidneys, you likely won’t experience any symptoms at all. As the stones travel from the kidney to the bladder through the ureter, however, they can get caught and cause a problematic block. Although the most common symptom is pain in the abdomen, other symptoms that often accompany a lodged kidney stone include:

  • Sharp, cramping pain in your groin or on your backside
  • Extremely dark urine due to blood
  • Reduced amount of urine excreted
  • Burning sensations and pain during urination (for men, there may be pain at the tip of the penis)
  • A persistent need to urinate
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms coupled with a fever or chills, you may be developing an infection and should seek medical attention.

The Leading Causes of Kidney Stones

Dehydration: By far the most common cause of kidney stones is a lack of water in the body. Stones tend to form more often in people who are chronically dehydrated. When you don’t have enough water in your body, you have less fluid to keep salts dissolved, which leads to concentrated urine.

Calcium build-up: Although there are many kinds of stones, 80% of them are calcium stones, which occur when calcium builds up in the bladder and increases the rate of mineral crystallization in urine.

Obesity: Obesity is another leading cause of kidney stones. Being overweight can change your urine’s acid levels, which leads to an increased risk of stone formation.

Treatments and Prevention

Although there’s not a one-size-fits-all defense strategy to prevent kidney stones from forming, there are some easy things you can do in your day-to-day life to ward off potential stones.

Drink More Water: The recommended daily dose of water is at least 3 liters each day. Try measuring your water intake for a day or two to get a sense of what that amount looks like. It usually comes out to about 8 glasses of water. Drink that much and you will greatly decrease your risk of developing stones.

Improve Your Diet: Eat less sodium and calcium. Sodium can cause both urine calcium and cystine to be too high, which greatly increases your risk of stones. A few foods you may want to eat less of are cheese, canned soup and vegetables, salty snacks like chips or pretzels, and bread or other baked goods. Try replacing these foods with more fruits and fresh vegetables, which offer potassium, fiber, magnesium, and antioxidants. These nutrients can help keep stones from forming.

Consider Medication: For some, simply eating less sodium and drinking more water is not enough to prevent kidney stones. Various medications like thiazide diuretics or potassium citrate can help lower sodium in the body and uric acid in urine. Likewise, certain over-the-counter vitamin supplements can be very helpful as long as you consult with your primary doctor first.

Even with the most disciplined prevention methods, kidney stones can still form in the body. If and when they do, call a doctor for advice on how to pass them. You can usually treat them in the comfort of your own home.

In some cases, hospital treatment might be needed so you can get rehydrated via an IV and receive anti-inflammatory medication. In the most dire of situations, surgery may be necessary, although this is not very common.

To learn more about kidney stone prevention and treatments, get in touch with the Southeastern Massachusetts Dialysis Group. Our doctors will be happy to talk with you about methods of prevention or treatment options if you already have kidney stones.

What Is Dialysis Fluid?

February 20, 2019

What Is Dialysis Fluid?

When the kidneys fail to function adequately, dialysis may be necessary. This medical treatment removes waste, such as excess salts and fluids, from the body, and this process is repeated on a recurring schedule. Depending on your unique case, either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (PD). Depending on how the type of treatment, dialysis fluid can have different meanings.

What Is Dialysis Fluid Made Of?

Dialysis solution is also known as dialysate and dialysis fluid. It is a mixture of dextrose, salt, and minerals, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The exact concentration varies based on whether hemodialysis or PD is used. Furthermore, it is important to note it is not the same thing as the fluids removed during treatment.

When Is Dialysate Used, and How Does It Affect Treatment?

During treatment, excess fluid and wastes are removed from the body. Although the blood is “cleaned” by the machine, the blood itself does not pass through a filter in the most literal sense. Waste products from the body are dissolved within and carried by the serum in the blood. It would impractical to remove dissolved waste products with a simple filter. This is where dialysate comes into play.

Dialysate facilitates the diffusion of waste products from areas of higher concentration—the blood and cellular tissues—to areas of lower concentration—within the filter. The blood moves through tiny tubes within the artificial kidney. The dialysate passes through in the opposite direction outside of these tubes. The tubes are semi-permeable, similar to the cell membranes of tissues.

The dialysate is the mechanism that removes waste products from the body. In addition, the machine removes excess body fluids from the blood as well. Removing too much fluid can affect treatment and a person’s health.

For example, changes in the volume and speed of blood flowing through the machine may affect blood pressure, heart rate and state of consciousness.

Dialysate is also used in a comparable manner in PD, says the NIDDK. The fluid enters the abdominal cavity and surrounds the organs. The permeable nature of cells allows diffusion of waste products and excess fluid into the dialysate. Upon completion, the solution is removed via the same port of entry.

Know How Dialysis Fluid Enables Your Treatment. 

Treatment for kidney failure through dialysis is usually misunderstood as a treatment when all kidney function stops. However, diminished kidney function, such as chronic kidney disease, may require treatment before kidneys complete fail. In addition, some people may have a sensitivity to dialysis fluid, which impacts the duration and speed of treatment sessions as well. Instead of just hoping for the best, make sure your treating physician understands whether treatment is necessary and how it will impact your life. In fact, schedule your consultation by contacting Southeastern Massachusetts Dialysis Group online or by calling the Taunton Regional Dialysis Center at 1-508-828-5986 today.

How does kidney disease affect the body?

February 10, 2019

How does kidney disease affect the body?

To stay healthy, the human body must remove toxins and excess fluids. Most people are born with two kidneys, which are a pair of fist-sized organs that filter toxins and excess fluid from about 50 gallons of blood a day. The body then eliminates the fluid and toxins through about two quarts of urine daily. Kidney disease prevents the kidneys from filtering blood, however, and this can affect the body in many ways.

More than 30 million people in the United States have kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation, and most do not know it. This is because kidney disease does not typically cause noticeable symptoms until it has reached a very advanced stage, known as renal failure or end-stage renal disease, in which the kidneys stop working altogether.

Certain conditions, such as low blood pressure and diabetes, can increase the risk of kidney disease. Low blood pressure, known as hypotension, reduces the amount of blood flowing to the kidneys. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the nation. In patients with diabetes, the excessive sugar levels in the blood damage blood vessels in the kidneys, which prevent the kidneys from working well.

How Kidney Disease Affects the Body

When kidneys stop working, the waste products the kidneys usually excrete build up. Levels of certain byproducts of cell function, such as urea and creatinine, can grow too high. Kidney disease can affect the concentration of certain minerals, such as sodium and potassium, which can affect many systems throughout the body. Low levels of these minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus can cause muscle cramps, for example.

Kidney disease can also prevent the kidneys from concentrating the urine properly, which allows the buildup of excess fluid in the body. Puffiness or swelling of the feet, ankles and lower legs may occur; some people with renal disease have puffy eyes too. Many people with kidney disease feel the need to urinate more often.

Renal disease can cause dry and itchy skin. Among their many other jobs, kidneys help make red blood cells, work to balance the levels of minerals in the body and help keep bones strong. The mineral imbalances and bone diseases that often accompany advanced kidney disease can cause itchiness.

Kidney disease can interfere with sleep. When the kidneys fail to filter blood properly, toxins can build up in the body, and this accumulation of toxins can interfere with sleep. Sleep apnea, a condition characterized by multiple pauses in breathing during sleep, is more common in people with kidney disease. These toxins, along with the anemia associated with kidney disease, can also cause a person to feel more tired, have less energy or have trouble concentrating.

For more information about renal failure and the effects kidney disease has on the body, consult with a vein doctor in Taunton, MA, and Brockton, MA that specializes in kidney disease, nephrology, and dialysis.

Is it Painful to Have Dialysis?

November 20, 2018

Is it Painful to Have Dialysis?

After a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease or renal failure, your doctor will usually recommend dialysis. Undergoing this necessary medical treatment will not only help improve your quality of life, but it will also help you survive until a kidney transplant can be performed.

If your doctor has recommended dialysis you may be concerned that this type of treatment is painful. Help prepare yourself to undergo this type of treatment by learning more about how you can expect to feel during and after dialysis.

The Entire Experience is Relatively Pain-Free

Undergoing dialysis treatment is an emotionally draining experience, but it is relatively pain-free. If you are undergoing hemodialysis, a form of the treatment that involves using a needle, you may experience a slight pinching sensation when the needle is inserted. A topical numbing medicine can be applied to the injection site to reduce any pain you may experience from the insertion of the needle.

Expect to See Improvements to Your Health After Starting Treatment

Unless you are experiencing other underlying health issues, you can expect to start seeing improvements to your health after starting treatment for chronic kidney disease or renal failure. Each person is different, but typically improvements in your health can be seen in approximately a week. However, it can take some people four to six weeks to see improvements.

Dialysis Treatment can Cause Some Side Effects

Just because the treatment is pain-free doesn’t mean you won’t experience any adverse side effects or symptoms after treatment. Some patients may experience uncomfortable side effects and symptoms from dialysis treatment. Luckily, these side effects and symptoms are relatively easy to manage.

Some of the side effects and symptoms you may experience after starting treatment for chronic kidney disease or renal failure include:

  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle cramps
  • Abdominal pain  
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Some things you can do to reduce your chances of experience some of these side effects and symptoms include:

  • Getting regular exercise while undergoing treatment
  • Follow all instructions given by your healthcare team especially any instructions involving limitations and restrictions to your diet or fluid intake
  • Follow your treatment schedule
  • Resume normal activities as soon as possible once you start treatment

If you experience any side effects or symptoms it is important to notify your healthcare team right away. Adjustments to your treatment plan can often reduce or eliminate many side effects and symptoms that you are experiencing.

Work with a Team of Experienced Healthcare Professionals for Treatment

The healthcare team at Associates in Nephrology has experience in making the dialysis experience as pain-free and symptom-free as possible. Call our office today to schedule an appointment to learn more about how we can help you while you seek treatment for chronic kidney disease or renal failure.

How Long Do You Have To Live If Your Kidneys Are Failing?

November 20, 2018

How Long Do You Have To Live If Your Kidneys Are Failing?

Renal failure – the medical term for failing kidneys – is a complex process that typically occurs over a period of months to years. Occasionally, an individual may develop acute renal failure, which occurs within a few days to a week. In either case, the condition may shorten your lifespan, especially if not treated. Here’s some information on how long you may live if your kidneys are failing, courtesy of Dr. Allen Lauer of Associates in Nephrology.

Renal Failure Basics

Kidney failure begins with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Damaged kidneys can’t filter the blood the way they are supposed to and waste products such as ammonia begin to build up in the bloodstream. Doctors divide CKD into stages that indicate how much kidney function you have. Stage 1 and 2 indicate some degree of kidney damage. By the time you reach stage 3, you’ve lost about half your kidney function. Stage 4 indicates severe kidney damage and stage 5 is complete kidney failure.

Primary Causes of Renal Failure

Diabetes is far and away the most common cause of renal failure in the US. Chronic high blood sugar damages all of the cells in the body. Proper treatment, however, can prevent much of this damage. High blood pressure (hypertension) is another common cause of CKD and kidney failure. Low blood pressure can also cause problems, as the kidneys need a certain level of blood flow to filter waste from the blood. Low blood pressure is more likely to be a factor in acute kidney failure. Although less common, toxins, autoimmune diseases and conditions such as a heart attack can also result in kidney failure.

Renal Failure and Longevity

There is no question that kidney disease can affect the lifespan. Putting a time frame on an individual case is much more complex. In acute failure, death may occur within a few days to a week without treatment. If the progress of CKD is rapid and the patient opts not to have treatment, life expectancy may be a few years at most. However, even people who have complete renal failure may live for years with proper care and regular dialysis treatments. A kidney transplant may also result in a longer survival period.

Treating Kidney Failure

In the initial stages of CKD, the emphasis is on medical management – such as dietary changes, fluid restriction, and medications. It is also important to treat contributing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Once the kidneys fail completely, dialysis or a kidney transplant is the only treatment options. With proper treatment, people with renal failure often live for decades after diagnosis. Many continue to work, raise families and enjoy their lives to the fullest.

A diagnosis of renal failure certainly isn’t good news, but there is always hope. You can continue to enjoy your life with proper treatment and medical management. If you have questions or concerns about CKD and kidney disease, please contact our office. We serve the Taunton and Brockton areas of Massachusetts.

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