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Living with Kidney Disease

Kidney disease means the damage of kidneys and the loss of their function to filter wastes off the blood. This causes wastes to build up in the body causing other diseases that could harm the body. When the kidney disease develops and progresses over a period of time, often due to a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is called chronic kidney disease. If a person develops a sudden kidney dysfunction due to other illnesses, injury or intake of certain medicines, it is called acute kidney disease.

Kidney disease leads to a number of health conditions such as high blood pressure, anemia, bone disease, malnutrition and a risk for heart disease or stroke. Kidney disease can get worse over time, leading to kidney failure.

It is difficult to lead life with kidney disease as it affects many areas of life. Patients with kidney failure will have to undergo dialysis at regular intervals (2 to 3 times a week), and this may affect their social life as well as their work life.

Exercise should form an important part of life for patients with kidney disease. It not only helps improve their health condition, but instills a feeling of confidence and helps them get good sleep in the night. Patients with mild to moderate kidney disease can usually exercise as much as any other person of their age with normal kidney function. If a patient has kidney failure and is on dialysis, his/her capacity to exercise may be reduced and he/she may get tired very easily. But these patients should not give up on their exercise regime. They may first start with minor exercises and then gradually progress to an advanced exercise regime. However, it is important for the patient to keep the doctor informed about his exercise regime.

For patients with mild kidney disease, or those who have had a kidney transplant, not much time needs to be spent in the hospital except for regular visits and consultations with their nephrologist. But patients undergoing dialysis have to visit the hospital three times a week for the dialysis procedure to be done, and the procedure may take about 4 hours. The patients may become bored and weary at this time, so it is good to occupy themselves with reading, listening to music or doing exercises while lying on the treatment bed. Patients may also opt for home dialysis if their doctor feels they are fit for it.

Patients with mild to moderate kidney disease may not experience any changes in their sex life and the women may not have a problem conceiving. But, for a woman with kidney failure, it is important to consult a doctor if she is planning to conceive, so that the doctor may modify the treatment plan and keep the patient informed and support the patient in her plans for pregnancy.

Patients with mild to moderate kidney disease will be able to travel with no difficulties, but patients with kidney failure who are on dialysis, may have to speak with their doctors. Usually, doctors are able to arrange for dialysis for patients wanting a holiday, at the destination of their choice.

The work life of patients needing dialysis may get affected as they have to take time off work to undergo dialysis three times a week. Some patients may want to give up working for a short period, but those who want to continue working, must talk with their renal care team so that they are able to make appointments at the time convenient for the patient, so his/her work life is not affected.

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