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Health Blog :: How long can dialysis continue?

January 10, 2019

The simple answer would be as long as you live and willing to stay with the treatment plan. Many patients live long, dynamic, and gratifying lives with kidney disease for many years, some for 20-30 years or more. Time on dialysis depends on many factors including the person’s other medical problems, their age, their gender, their stamina, and how well they take care of themselves and follow their physician’s instructions and treatment plan. Kidney patients who take an active role in their health tend to do better.

Dialysis is just one aspect of the treatment when kidneys have failed. One must pay attention to other aspects of their health including blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, anemia and metabolite problems including potassium and phosphorus. Interacting with the care team, including the technicians, nurses, dietitian and social worker, makes you aware of what can be done better to improve your outcome.

Not deviating from a treatment plan is hard, and occasionally cheating your health by missing treatments or cutting them short or not taking an important medicine may be unavoidable. However, the important thing is to get back on the track and making up the missed sessions. Check with your team members on how you can do better and if you are getting the exact amount of treatment to feel your best.   

Keep your appointments with your primary care physician for your preventative care and learn about the many things you can do to lead a healthier, longer life. Talk to your social worker about any depressive work or home situations or financial issues and what you can do as a team to remedy the situation. See how the team can modify your schedule so you can keep active, exercise, or even keep a job schedule. Learn from the dietitian how to manage your diet and metabolites better so you get adequate nutrition and manage your metabolites and fluid gains. Listen to your team when they discuss ways to reduce the chance of infection by regular immunizations and keeping a clean sterile dialysis access site. Regular visits with your primary physician and specialists help reduce need to visit emergency rooms and hospitals and major illness.

When you have time explore dialysis treatment options as part of your life plan for kidney disease treatment. At different times in your life you may have a kidney transplant or be on home dialysis or in center dialysis, so knowing more about all your options keeps you better prepared when the time comes needing one or another treatment. Pick one that best fits your health and lifestyle.

Be your own advocate and notify your team if there have been any changes in your health or dialysis access. Be sure they know if you have been prescribed a new medicine by another physician or provider, or if you have started taking an over the counter medicine that you have found helps you. Tell them of any falls or other accident or if you ended up in the hospital. Ask for help to avoid those situations again.

Together with your health team you can lead a long healthy and happy life with kidney disease. Take an active part in your care and take advantage of your teams experience and personalized care.

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