When illness afflicts a person, it is imperative that the patient be advised on lifestyle changes that could help him control the disease. Most people on dialysis treatments for end-stage renal disease have been bound by many changes in their normal routine and relationships. These changes are often difficult but necessary. Although there are no two exactly similar experiences as dialysis affects different patients in varying degrees, still the changes may affect a person’s quality of life. Thus, it is important that the people around him should understand how dialysis could impact, not only the patient, but their lives as well.
Here are 5 common changes that can occur in dialysis patients:
1. Body Changes
Dialysis can sometimes produce changes in the body and the way you look. Dry skin and brittle hair usually occur. Some people may have constant itching, as a result of particular diets and certain medicines.
Bruising also becomes common, and the skin can easily get sunburned or tanned than usual.
Some complaints of dialysis patients include experiencing dryness in the mouth, sometimes resulting in bad breath. Keeping your mouth closed, chewing gum or sucking on a hard sugar-free candy can help alleviate this condition.
2. Changes in Weight
A difficult adjustment that a dialysis patient has to deal with is changes in bodyweight. Every time a patient comes in for a dialysis, his weight will be checked. The rationale behind this is that weight gain determines how much fluid should be removed during the procedure. When the kidneys start to excrete less fluid than is taken in, fluid begins to accumulate in the body. Medicines cannot remove this extra fluid from system because of the kidney failure. Dialysis can remove this extra fluid to a certain degree. Large weight change can also cause blood pressure changes, headaches, leg cramps and other problems. To prevent these problems, a patient is usually advised to gain less than 2 pounds of fluid a day.
Muscle mass is also affected, even before dialysis treatments, because illness due to kidney failure can result in lower muscle mass. Dialysis may make the patient feel better. The doctor can provide tests to determine how much of the weight gain is due to muscle mass or fluid retention.
3. Time Changes
Time spent on dialysis treatments can seem to last forever. Days may drag on when a patient is not feeling well. A patient may feel better on dialysis, but oftentimes he and his relatives feel so much time is spent on these treatments. Treatments may be boring and uncomfortable. For many patients, time spent in dialysis treatments is time spent for improved health. A patient and his family would need to b creative during this time. A patient is encouraged to read books, listen to music, write letters, or do a non-physically taxing task to take his mind off a stressful activity as dialysis itself.
4. Changes in Energy and Stamina
A decrease in energy will star before analysis treatments. With time, dialysis will improve energy levels. However, more often than not, patients, undergoing dialysis do not return to normal energy levels when they were well. Patients on hemodialysis often feel “blah” t6he evening before dialysis and tired or ‘rung out” after dialysis. People on Peritoneal Dialysis may become tired if they have too much fluid or if they are too dry.
Doctors would normally recommend the following for dialysis patients. Take note, however, that every case is different, and it is best to consult one’s physician for your particular to keep up the energy levels.
- Check patterns to energy levels and pan activities during peak times.
- Take rest periods in your schedule. Avoid daytime naps to prevent sleeplessness at night.
- Do light exercise like walking or cycling on a regular basis.
5. Changes in Sex Drives and Habits
Changes in a patient’s sex drive and habits are not unusual. Not every person on dialysis will experience these changes, but many people do. Changes in a person’s energy level, leisure time, prescribed medicine and increased stress, may combine to produce changes in sex drive.
Communication on this matter is important. Discussions on birth control, blood pressure medicine and relationship changes should be done with your partner and doctor.
A physician should be consulted on how to make the necessary lifestyle changes in undergoing dialysis, or have a medical specialist explain the other options there are to regain a better quality of life.