I am going to go through some of the most common daily challenges of kidney disease and give insight into how I am able to not only cope with the symptoms, but live a full and active life. I hope that this post can help people who also have struggled with some of these challenges.
Diet & Nutrition - Phosphorus Levels
Our diet and nutrition with kidney disease is a daily fight. There are so many things to control and many challenges, with 2 of the biggest is having to watch our fluid intake and also monitoring our levels of phosphorus.
Additional dietary challenges include monitoring your potassium and in some cases protein levels. Some people also have problems with their calcium and vitamin D levels.
In many cases, phosphorus levels can be managed by taking phosphorus binders with every meal and/or snack. Phosphorus binders do just that - it will bind the phosphorus as it goes into our body because our kidneys are not functioning well enough to manage this for us.
Phosphorus is in almost every food that we eat
This includes any type of deli meats, wheat products, & wheat bread. Phosphorus is in almost everything that we eat so everything must be eaten in moderation.
The renal diet is very tough. Potassium is another major concern. If your potassium levels are too high, it can automatically stop your heart. If it's too low there could be other issues.
The renal diet requires us to stay away from potassium. That means you can enjoy things like bananas, potatoes, and many of your greens such as collard greens, spinach, & mustard greens.
However, foods like broccoli rabe, asparagus, oranges, orange juice, & mangoes are foods that are all high in potassium and should be avoided if at all possible.
Another challenge of kidney disease is being on dialysis, which affects our fluid intake. This might be one of the most difficult challenges of all. You are supposed to gain no more than 3 kilograms of fluid between each treatment. The challenge is if you gain too much fluid, then that fluid needs to be extracted from your body during treatment. The fluid in your body can lead to uncomfortable cramps after treatment.
There are some long term effects the fluid retention, the main one being the effect on your heart.
Some of the ways in which dialysis patients manage their symptoms of fluid retention includes:
- Sucking on ice cubes
- Eating frozen fruits like frozen grapes, cherries, strawberries, & blueberries &
- Using small cups, like a 6 ounce cup instead of 8 ounce cup.
Use A Large Measured Container
Another tip is to use a large measured container so that you know exactly the amount of fluid you need to have over the next day and or day and a half. But you must be mindful that many of the vegetables that you eat will break down into fluid in your body. For example, if you eat Jell-o or pudding snacks, that will end up being counted as a part of your fluid.
As you can see, there are many daily challenges to living with kidney disease. By being mindful of our diet and proactive with our health, we can reduce many of the symptoms we experience. It’s important to keep open communication with our doctors and health professionals and to educate ourselves so that we can take care of ourselves in the best way possible.