What are the Signs that You Need Dialysis?

June 13, 2018

What are the Signs that You Need Dialysis?

Dialysis is a medical treatment that does the job of the kidneys, which is removing waste materials and excess fluids from the body. Dialysis is for people in kidney failure, a condition where the kidneys no longer work. Kidney failure does produce certain signs that you need dialysis.

The kidneys are two fist-sized, bean-shaped organs located on either side of your spine, just under your ribcage. They filter about 120 to 150 quarts to produce 1 – 2 quarts of urine each day. Your kidneys perform other tasks, such as playing a role in the production of the red blood cells that transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of y our body.  Kidney failure is a condition where the kidneys stop cleaning toxins from the blood and fail to perform other important functions. Kidney failure causes the signs that you need dialysis.

There are two options to treat kidney failure: kidney transplant and dialysis. A kidney transplant is an ideal treatment, of course, but it requires a donor match. There is currently a very long list of people on the kidney transplant waiting list – more than 93,000 people are currently waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the Living Kidneys Donors Network. Everyone on the waiting list for a kidney transplant needs dialysis.

You need dialysis if you are on the kidney transplant waiting list. You may also need dialysis if you have signs of kidney failure.

Signs of Kidney Failure and Need for Dialysis

You need dialysis if you are suffering from kidney failure. You may not realize you have a kidney problem, though, as kidney failure may not always produce symptoms. When they do occur, the signs and symptoms of kidney failure may be subtle.

Changes in urination are important signs that you need dialysis. While a decrease in urine output is usually the main sign of kidney failure, producing too much urine may also be a sign of kidney failure. Changes in the color of your urine may indicate a kidney problem, as can foamy or bubbly urine, feeling pressure when urinating, or having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.

If you need dialysis, you might notice swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. This swelling is due to excess fluids in your system. Fluid can build up in your lungs to cause shortness of breath.

Fatigue or weakness may occur. These symptoms are the result of a buildup of waste in your bloodstream or the lack of red blood cells.

Back or flank pain may indicate a kidney problem.

You may need dialysis if you experience “ammonia breath,” or when you get an ammonia or metal taste in your mouth. You might experience an aversion to meat and other protein-rich foods. This is due to the waste products in your system.

Itching is a common sign. It is also the result of waste accumulation in your system. Loss of appetite and vomiting may occur.

Anyone who suffers signs of kidney failure should speak to a doctor about dialysis.

What Causes Chronic Renal Failure?

May 21, 2018

What Causes Chronic Renal Failure?

Chronic renal failure (CRF) is usually preceded by either chronic kidney disease or acute renal failure. However, CRF has many different causes, ranging from diseases to toxic exposure to infections. All of these cause damage to the kidneys themselves. Eventually, the kidneys can no longer do the work of clearing wastes from the blood and dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to stay alive. Here’s what you need to know about CRF, courtesy of Dr. Allan Lauer and Associates in Nephrology.

Chronic Kidney Disease

The National Kidney Foundation notes that approximately 30 million American adults have chronic kidney disease. Millions of others have an increased risk of developing this condition. The earlier the problem is detected, the sooner treatment can begin and the greater the likelihood that further damage can be prevented. Certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease, which can lead to CRF. These groups include seniors, African Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, people with a family history of kidney failure and those with diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension).

Causes of Chronic Renal Failure

The two main causes of chronic renal failure are diabetes and hypertension. People who have diabetes sustain damage to the kidneys – as well as many other organs – when their blood sugar is too high. The high levels of sugar interfere with the cells of the body because cellular metabolism depends on a blood sugar that stays within a narrow range. Hypertension damages the walls of the blood vessels because of the constant high pressure. It works the other way, too – chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure. However, low blood pressure increases the chance of complications once you develop CRF.

Although diabetes and hypertension top the list, CRF can also be the result of:

  • Infections such as glomerulonephritis – the third most common cause of kidney disease.
  • Genetic factors, such as kidney malformations and polycystic kidney disease.
  • An exposure to a toxic substance such as lead, cadmium or mercury.
  • Diseases like lupus or other immune disorders.
  • Mechanical obstruction to urinary flow caused by tumors, kidney stones or an enlarged prostate in men.

Symptoms of CRF

The symptoms of CRF are often subtle and do not appear until the disease is well advanced. Fatigue is common, as is an inability to concentrate. In most cases, the appetite is poor and you may have trouble sleeping. Swollen feet and ankles, puffiness around the eyes – especially in the morning – and muscle cramps at night are other typical symptoms. Needing to urinate more often, especially at night, is another common symptom of CRF. Dry itchy skin usually develops as the disease progresses. The disease is usually diagnosed by a test called the glomerular function rate.

If you have been diagnosed with kidney problems of any kind, your primary care provider might want you to see a specialist such as Dr. Lauer. Remember, early care is important to prevent complications. Please contact us for an appointment.

What Are Common Dialysis Side Effects?

May 11, 2018

What Are Common Dialysis Side Effects?

Dialysis is a literal life-saver for those with renal failure. Like almost all medical treatments, it can have side effects. Some of these are minor, while others can have serious effects and require additional treatment. Here’s what you need to know about the most common dialysis side effects, courtesy of Dr. Allan Lauer at Associates in Nephrology.
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What Dialysis Patients Cannot Eat

April 18, 2018

What Dialysis Patients Cannot Eat

Your body’s kidneys are designed to work 24/7 to filter toxins and wastes out of your blood. In people who have been diagnosed with renal failure, the kidneys are not healthy enough to filter the blood which is why dialysis is needed. Unfortunately, this treatment can’t do the full work that healthy kidneys do which is why it is important to watch what you eat when undergoing dialysis treatment.

Watching what you eat while undergoing treatment for kidney failure can help prevent you from becoming ill as a result of toxins and wastes building up in your bloodstream. Eating foods that don’t contain the harmful toxins and wastes keeps the blood healthy in between appointments for treatment.

What Ingredients You Should Avoid When on Dialysis

It isn’t so much what you eat, but what ingredients are in the foods or drinks you consume. When you are undergoing treatment, you will want to check the labels of all foods and drinks to make sure they don’t contain items that could make you sick.

The ingredients you will want to avoid during treatment are:

  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • High amounts of liquid or fluids
  • Potassium

Potassium may or may not be on your list of things to avoid during treatment. It will all depend upon your personal potassium levels. Typically during treatment, you will undergo regular blood tests. Those blood tests will be able to tell you if need to completely avoid potassium, eat more potassium, or if you can have some in small amounts.

Examples of Foods You Should Avoid During Dialysis

Some examples of the foods you will want to avoid during treatment include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Dried beans
  • Milk
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Meats, seafood, and fish – allowed in very limited quantities
  • Bacon
  • Processed foods
  • Pickles

Some of the foods, such as milk and meats, can be consumed in limited quantities. Other foods, such as chocolate, nuts, and seeds, need to be completely avoided.

Your healthcare team will work with you before you start treatment to create a very detailed list of foods that you should avoid. They will also provide you with examples of foods and drinks that you can eat or drink during treatment.

Schedule an Appointment to Create a Customized Care Plan

Associates of Nephrology provide comprehensive, customized care for patients who are seeking treatment for renal failure. That customized care plan includes a detailed outline of what foods and drinks need to be avoided or limited. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with the compassionate and caring doctors at Associates of Nephrology.

How Kidney Failure Leads to Hypertension

April 10, 2018

How Kidney Failure Leads to Hypertension

Oftentimes, people who are diagnosed with renal failure and other kidney problems get trapped in a vicious cycle where their blood pressure rises due to the damage of the kidneys. Unfortunately, the more damage the kidneys experience, the more the blood pressure increases which leads to additional damage to the kidneys.

Learning more about why this happens and what may be able to be done to help you lower your blood pressure.

What Causes the Rise in Blood Pressure When You Have Kidney Disease?

Kidneys are surrounded by tiny blood vessels that are responsible for helping the body filter out toxins, extra fluid, and wastes. The blood vessels need to be healthy to do this type of filtration. That doesn’t happen when you have kidney disease.

People with kidney problems often experience damage to these important blood vessels. Once the blood vessels are damaged, they are unable to successfully remove extra fluid and wastes from the body. Failure to remove the extra fluid leads to a buildup of fluid in the veins which increases blood pressure.

Failure to Control Blood Pressure Leads to Future Problems for People with Kidney Disease

From the minute you are diagnosed with kidney disease, your doctor will ask that you regularly monitor your blood pressure. This is necessary because failure to control your blood pressure could lead to a number of problems such as strokes, heart attacks, and additional damage to the kidneys.

There are a number of ways you can work to actively control your blood pressure. Some of the ways you can lower your blood pressure include:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight or maintaining a healthy weight
  • Working to quit smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium and saturated fat
  • Exercising on a daily basis – it is recommended that you try to engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise every day
  • Learning techniques that can help you reduce your stress
  • Medication

What works for each person to help achieve low blood pressure readings will vary as every person is unique. Your healthcare team will work closely with you to create a customized treatment plan that will slow down or prevent damage to your kidneys by lowering your blood pressure.

Have a History of High Blood Pressure or Recently Diagnosed with Kidney Disease? Schedule an Appointment with a Nephrologist

If you have a history of high blood pressure or have been recently diagnosed with kidney disease, you should schedule an appointment with a nephrologist at Associates in Nephrology. A nephrologist will be able to determine how much kidney damage you are experiencing and create a customized treatment plan, which can include dialysis or medication management, for you.

Associates in Nephrology has experience treating a variety of problems ranging from renal failure to kidney problems caused by diabetes. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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