Living Well with Chronic Kidney Disease

Written by LVMC on

It’s possible to live a fulfilling life with chronic kidney disease as long as the right steps are taken to manage the disease and delay its progression.

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It’s possible to live a fulfilling life with chronic kidney disease as long as the right steps are taken to manage the disease and delay its progression.

Living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be challenging—especially if your symptoms are severe and you're receiving dialysis treatment several times a week. However, certain healthy behaviors can make it possible for you to live well with your condition and improve your quality of life.

Here are steps to lead a fulfilling life if you have CKD and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center when you're ready to discuss additional treatment options.

Use Medications and Supplements Safely

Some medications for kidney disease may be used to reduce your risk for related complications down the road. Take any medications as directed, even if you're feeling well and don't think you need them.

Speak with your doctor before taking any new medications, over-the-counter medicines, or nutritional supplements. Some of these products may worsen your kidney function or interact with your current medications. For example, avoid taking star fruit or chromium supplements, as these may harm your kidneys.

Your doctor can give you a list of drugs and supplements to avoid when you have CKD.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has a large number of benefits for those who are living with chronic kidney disease. It can lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar, and reduce stress. It can also give you more energy and help you build lean muscle.

Aim to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Do a combination of aerobic exercises and strength training activities. Ask your doctor about the best types of exercises you should do based on your current health status. Walking, swimming, and bicycling are examples of great exercises for CKD.

Eat the Right Foods

Healthy foods are critical to maintaining and improving kidney health if you have CKD. Your doctor or nutritionist may recommend eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. The goal is to limit foods that your kidney cannot process well.

If you have stage 5 CKD, your doctor will likely recommend eating more protein and carbohydrates and eating less salt, potassium, and phosphorus. Apples, berries, cauliflower, eggs, and pasta are among the best foods to eat with chronic kidney disease.

Manage Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure levels can damage your kidneys even more if you've been diagnosed with CKD. Work on keeping your blood pressure at or below 140/90 mm Hg or below the goal your doctor set.

Take blood pressure medications as directed, and eat heart-healthy foods that naturally reduce blood pressure. Other steps you can take to lower your blood pressure include staying active, getting quality sleep, and quitting smoking.

Stop Smoking

Smoking narrows your blood vessels and interferes with the blood flow to your kidneys. This can make chronic kidney disease far more severe.

Ask your healthcare provider about smoking cessation treatments that can help you quit for good. Nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges are forms of nicotine replacement therapy that can help you stop smoking. Other effective treatments include medication, counseling, and support groups. It can take several months for you to quit smoking, but it will be far worth it in the end.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

Drinking alcohol regularly or in high amounts can raise your blood pressure and make it harder for your kidneys to filter your blood. It can also cause imbalances in electrolytes and lead to dehydration that affects the way your kidneys function.

Start drinking less alcohol or stop drinking it altogether. Your doctor can advise you on how much alcohol is safe to drink based on your overall health and the stage of your kidney disease.

Manage Diabetes

Diabetes is a significant risk factor for chronic kidney disease. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the kidneys and prevent them from filtering waste out of your blood. Diabetes can also damage nerves all throughout your body and make it difficult for you to know when your bladder is full. Increased pressure from a full bladder can cause severe damage to your kidneys.

Take all the necessary steps to manage your diabetes, such as taking your medications, exercising regularly, and reducing your sugar intake. Your healthcare provider can work closely with you to help you control your diabetes.

Eat Less Salt

Too much salt can lead to water retention and affect your kidney function. High amounts of salt can also increase your blood pressure, putting excess strain on your kidneys and worsening CKD.

Limit your salt intake to no more than 2,000 mg a day. Avoid adding table salt to all your meals, and experiment with herbs, spices, and other healthy seasonings. Stop eating frozen meals and going to fast-food restaurants, as these foods often contain high amounts of salt and sodium that can worsen your kidney health.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Having excess weight will make your kidneys work harder and can make your kidney disease more severe. Extra weight is also associated with conditions linked to CKD, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly, eating nutritious foods, and reducing your sodium intake. Getting plenty of sleep and managing stress are other effective ways to lose excess weight and fight obesity.

Get Quality Sleep

Poor sleep is linked to a wide range of health problems, including lowered immunity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also contributes to stress and mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.

Quality sleep can help regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Do whatever it takes to get good quality sleep, such as going to bed earlier, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music as you fall asleep. If sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia are making it difficult for you to sleep, work with a sleep specialist who can treat these conditions.

Manage Stress and Depression

Understandably, living with CKD can make you feel stressed. However, chronic stress can worsen your blood sugar and blood pressure and increase your risk for depression. Depression can interfere with your ability to take good care of yourself and make you more vulnerable to complications.

Many behaviors that help you manage CKD are also useful in helping you avoid stress and depression. Exercising, eating nutritious foods, and getting quality sleep are some of many healthy behaviors that can reduce stress and depression. Joining a CKD support group and spending time with friends and family can also help you combat these problems.

Work Closely With Your Healthcare Team

Seeing your doctor regularly is key to staying healthy when you are living with CKD. Your doctor can monitor your kidney health and make sure your medications are controlling your symptoms. Your doctor may also refer you to specialists who can help you manage CKD, including dietitians, nutritionists, fitness trainers, and a nephrologist.

Don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions so you can fully understand your condition. Ask about signs of complications to look out for and about things you can do to avoid complications of CKD. Also, bring up concerns to your doctor immediately so they can be promptly addressed.

Know How To Cope With Dialysis

Dialysis may be overwhelming, but it can help you return to normal activities when you have chronic kidney disease. Knowing how to cope with dialysis can help you stay healthy and start feeling better.

Here are tips that can help you prepare for and cope with dialysis:

  • Learn about your options for where you can receive dialysis. This treatment may be offered at a hospital, a small clinic, or at your home. Choosing where you receive dialysis can make you feel more comfortable and control your condition.
  • Bring fun things to do. Dialysis usually lasts several hours a day on three or more days a week. Use that time wisely to read a book, send emails, or catch up on news and social media. Keeping yourself occupied during dialysis can stop your mind from wandering and help you stay content and entertained.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and power outages are potential emergencies that can interfere with your ability to receive dialysis. Ask your doctor about the best ways to prepare for emergencies so you know what to do in these scenarios.
  • Make the proper preparations before traveling. You can still take vacations or visit family and friends while living with CKD. Before you leave home, make an appointment with a dialysis center at your travel destination. Pack more than enough medications and medical supplies. Bring extra food and snacks, and contact trains and airlines ahead of time to learn about special accommodations for people with disabilities.

Nephrology Services At Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a wide range of nephrology services to help you live a full life with chronic kidney disease. If you think you may have kidney problems, we can diagnose your condition and help you find a treatment that works best for you. Contact us today at (805) 737-3382 to request an appointment and learn more about our many healthcare services.

LVMC
Written By LVMC, Editorial Staff
Our experts in healthcare often discuss the latest topics in health and wellness and share them for the Lompoc community.