Adjusting to Life on Dialysis

Take your medicines, take control

People on dialysis often take quite a few medications and the timing of when they’re taken truly matters. For instance, you may be prescribed phosphate binders to take when you eat and a renal vitamin that should be taken at night or after your treatment. To make following a daily routine easier to swallow, make sure you:

  • Listen and learn: Make a list of your medications, including over-the-counter vitamins and supplements, and talk to your healthcare team about why each one was prescribed, when they should be taken and the vital role they play in your kidney care.
  • Work with a pharmacist that understands: When you start dialysis your prescriptions for other concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease may need of change. This is when pharmacists that specialize in kidney care can be extremely helpful. They can perform a thorough medication review and help ensure you’re not taking any prescriptions inappropriate for kidney failure patients.
  • Stay organized: Try using a plastic medication organizer and take each medication at the same time everyday (unless directed otherwise). Another great tip is to associate taking your medicine with other daily events like watching your favorite TV program or going to bed.
  • Stick to it: If you experience side effects, speak with your physician first, before you stop taking any medications. Also, avoid running out of medication by refilling necessary prescriptions on time.

Know your medicine cabinet

Getting familiar with kidney disease medications and adhering to a recommended regimen can play a crucial role in keeping you healthy.

Medications to avoid include over-the-counter pain pills such as ibuprofen, naproxen and some supplements that can damage kidneys.

Digging into the dialysis diet

There are two things to know about the dialysis diet: First, it’s different from the food choices you may already be making and second, try not to make too many changes at once. Some people on the dialysis diet start out focusing on what they “can’t” eat. While there are certainly foods and beverages to avoid, remember that following dialysis nutrition guidelines is a way to take control of your health and have a better quality of life. Think of the dialysis diet as an opportunity to try new things. Exploring delicious recipes, planning meals and sharing them with your family is something that can be fun and enjoyable.

Preparing yourself and your healthcare team

One of the most important things you can do to ease your transition to dialysis is to keep everyone on your healthcare team informed. Your primary care doctor, diabetes doctor, cardiologist—they’ll all need to know when you start dialysis as it may affect your labs, health goals and potential medications they prescribe.

Think of this transition in your life as an opportunity to take control of your health like never before. Learning as much as you can about your treatment, your diet and your medications and remaining dedicated to making healthy choices can be a truly empowering experience.

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