When a person’s kidneys can’t do the work for themselves, whether due to disease or injury, dialysis can help keep a body in balance. Sometimes the treatment is short-term and the kidneys are repaired, while other times it can be a lifelong situation or a long-term solution until a transplant is available.
No matter the length one is on dialysis though, it involves major lifestyle changes as the patient must commit to treatments that typically last four hours each and are done three times a week. However, dialysis doesn’t mean patients can’t live largely normal lives.
Here are some of the things dialysis patients can and can’t do.
Dialysis patients can:
Most dialysis patients can travel safely, as treatments can be done at locations around the world. It will take some planning to find a center that can meet your needs, but the social worker or nurse manager at your dialysis center may be able to help. Also, Global Dialysis provides maps and information about more than 16,800 dialysis centers in 161 countries.
Yes, most dialysis patients can exercise, and in many cases should. In fact, exercise can be an important part of a dialysis patient’s life, making them feel better and stronger. Of course, patients should start by talking with their doctor to find the right kind of exercise and advice as to how to get started.
While moderation is the key, most dialysis patients are allowed to consume some alcohol, as long as it’s counted within their normal fluid allowance and diet. Patients should talk to their doctor before drinking any alcohol to determine safe consumption amounts.
While it depends on the type of work, many people on dialysis can resume their careers while on dialysis. While there may be scheduling concerns, sometimes home dialysis provides a flexible alternative to having to do dialysis in a center.
While the odds are low — only 1 percent to 7 percent of women on dialysis of childbearing age can get pregnant — it can happen. If a woman does get pregnant while on dialysis, there are risks to her and the baby, but a doctor can offer advice based on a woman’s particular condition. After a kidney transplant, a woman’s fertility typically returns to normal.
Dialysis patients can’t:
Eat and drink like they use to
While it depends on on the type of dialysis you’re on, most patients will have to make some dietary changes. According to the National Kidney Foundation, dialysis patients typically need to eat more protein and consume less salt and foods that are high in potassium and phosphorus, such as bananas, nuts and chocolate.
Smoking isn’t healthy for anyone, but it’s particularly concerning for dialysis patients as it can worsen kidney damage.
As you can see, there are many more things a dialysis patient can do than things they can’t. While it’s no small commitment, dialysis doesn’t have to get in the way of a full, happy life.