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Caring For A Patient With Kidney Failure

Posted Feb 17 2012 6:17am

by Shelly Verma, ContributingWriter

When it was first diagnosed, I found it very difficult to accept the fact that my father had kidney failure. After his bypass surgery, he suffered from a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) for more than a year. We did not realize that this was the beginning of the end of his kidneys. He would have trouble when passing fluids, suffer from fever every other day and his feet and ankles would swell. Finally he had to be admitted in hospital, and that’s when we finally became aware about “Kidney failure”.

The kidneys just like every important organ in our body, have some major roles like removing waste products from the body, producing hormones that control body functions and regulating electrolyte and mineral levels.

There are a number of causes of kidney failure but in a lot of cases the cause is never found. The most common causes are diabetes, high blood pressure and a painless inflammation of the kidneys called glomerulonephritis. Other common causes are the inherited condition of cysts in the kidneys (polycystic kidney disease); repeated kidney infections or kidney infections (pyelonephritis) in childhood; and obstruction to the flow of urine.

What are the Symptoms?

1: Problems in Urination

Kidneys make urine, so when the kidneys aren’t working as they should, the urine may change. You may have to get up at night to urinate often, or in greater amounts than usual, with pale colored urine. Also your urine may contain blood and you might feel pressure or have difficulty urinating.

2: Swelling of Feet/Ankles

Infected kidneys will not be able to remove excess fluids-which builds up in the body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, face, and/or hands.

I remember my father had a lot of swelling in his ankles. his ankles were so swollen that he couldn't get even his slippers on.

3: Fatigue

Our kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin (a-rith'-ro-po'-uh-tin) that tells the body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less erythropoietin. With fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen, muscles and brain become tired very quickly.

4: Skin Rash/Itching

As The kidneys are responsible for removing wastes from the bloodstream, when they fail, the buildup of wastes in the blood can cause the sufferer severe itching.

5: Metallic/ BadTaste in Mouth

Due to waste build up in the body, food can taste different and cause bad breath. You may also find that He/She is you are losing weight because they you just don't feel like eating.

6: Nausea and Vomiting

A severe buildup of wastes in the blood (uremia) can also cause nausea and vomiting.

7: Shortness of Breath

Trouble with breathing  can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, fluid in the body can cause build up in the lungs. And second,anemia(a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells) can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.

8: Feeling Cold

Anemia can make you feel cold all the time, even in a warm room. When my father was ill, he felt so cold that he would sit in the sun for hours or spent most of the day huddled up in his blankets. We didn’t realize it at that time but that was the start of his kidney failure.

9: Dizziness and Trouble Concentrating

Anemia, in relation to kidney failure, means that your brain is not getting enough oxygen. This can lead to memory loss, trouble with concentration, and dizziness.

Before making any changes to your diet, make sure you discuss them with your doctor or dietitian. One must take special care of the fluid consumption, as too less little fluid intake would be bad for the kidneys, but to much of it would make it worse.

Another thing that can be done is to monitor the body’s potassium levels and control them with a proper diet.

When kidney function declines, the body has a difficult time keeping phosphorus and calcium in balance. As a result of this imbalance, the body cannot get rid of excess phosphorus (phosphorus levels increase) and the body cannot take in enough calcium (calcium levels decrease) which makes the bones weak.

Protein also has a very important role to play. Eating too much protein may cause urea to build up quickly. This will make you, making the body.feel sick. Eating less protein may be helpful in reducing blood urea levels.

Therefore,  it is important to plan a proper diet plan after consulting with your doctor.

Some general tips to keep in mind about kidney care:

  • You can look after your kidneys by eating healthy food, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Many diseases can affect your kidneys, and it may be a combined effect of various factors.
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

The timely detection of kidney disease can be life saving. Medication and lifestyle changes, along with an early visit to a kidney specialist, can prevent or delay kidney failure. If you are ‘at higher risk’ of chronic kidney disease, talk to your doctor about having a regular kidney health check. This includes a blood pressure test, blood test for kidney function and a urine test for protein.

Shelly enjoys writing on various subjects including career moves, finance, insurance, and home improvement.

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