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Opinion: A guide to living with reduced kidney function

Dr. Kapiljit Chakravarty, MBBS, MD (Medicine), DM (Nephrology) - IPGMER, HOD Department of Nephrology, B.S Medical College and Hospital, Bankura, Consultant Nephrologist & Transplant Physician

Published: Dec 21, 2022 02:47:35 PM IST
Updated: Dec 21, 2022 04:41:05 PM IST

Opinion: A guide to living with reduced kidney functionChronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys don't work as well as they should. An individual's physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being can all be impacted by a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. People react differently when they are informed that they have kidney illness. Living with a chronic condition that will affect you for the rest of your life can be challenging. Taking prescribed medicine, being physically active and eating well will help.

Take Your Medicine
Some medications are made to guard against life-threatening issues in the future. It’s very important that you take any prescribed medicine, even if you feel well.

If you want to take any painkillers or dietary supplements, consult your care team first. Sometimes, these can harm your kidneys or interact with your medication. Speak with your care team if you have questions or adverse effects from a medication you are taking. It's also advisable to read the medication's information booklet about possible interactions with additional drugs or dietary supplements.

Get Physically Active
Physical activity is good for anyone with kidney disease, whether you have mild, moderate, or severe CKD. It can give you more energy, improve your sleep, strengthen your bones, and protect against depression. Additionally, it might lower your chance of issues like heart disease.

Exercise Regularly
Your general health can also be enhanced by regular exercise. Never be afraid to exercise. Regardless of how serious your kidney illness is, exercise is beneficial.

A few other things you can do to help manage your CKD:

  • Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking can make kidney disease worse and interfere with medicine that lowers blood pressure.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg (or the target set by your doctor).
  • If you have diabetes, stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible.
  • During flu season, get your flu shot.

Eat Well
Your overall health can be enhanced and your chance of developing new issues can be decreased with a good, balanced diet.

While you should limit salt, your food doesn’t have to be bland! Get creative with herbs, spices, mustard, and flavored vinegars in your favorite recipes. Cooking food at home instead of eating out at restaurants will also help reduce your salt intake.

A balanced diet should include:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least 5 portions a day
  • Meals that include starchy foods, such as potatoes, wholegrain bread, rice or pasta
  • Some dairy or dairy alternatives
  • Some beans or pulses, fish, eggs, or meat as a source of protein
  • Low levels of saturated fat, salt and sugar

Regular Reviews and Monitoring
Your care team will check in with you frequently to assess your health.

These appointments may involve:

  • Describing your symptoms, including how they are affecting your daily activities and whether they are getting worse.
  • An examination of your medication, including any adverse effects you may be feeling.
  • Examinations to check your general health and renal function

Gather a Support Team
Receiving support from people throughout a prolonged illness can be quite beneficial, especially during difficult times. Always remember that it's important to discuss your feelings and thoughts with your family and friends and to ask for help when you need it.

Many people place a lot of importance on their spiritual beliefs. If this is the case for you, spiritual assistance may be a great source of relief when things get tough.

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