When John – was started on hemodialysis three times per week – he never thought he had a chance. But after 524 days of dialysis, he recovered… COMPLETELY and was able to avoid being tied to a machine for the rest of his life.
What I want to focus on today’s article are ways to get out of kidney dialysis… alive. According to a recent study published on the prestigious journal PLUS Medicine, 4% of chronic dialysis patients COULD discontinue dialysis due to recovery of kidney function – even after months or years of dialysis.
But researchers believe that, even if patients have the chance to recovery – they just don’t know – because doctors usually don’t check. Yes, this is shocking. Imagine being tied to a machine just because your doctor doesn’t test your kidney function anymore when you start dialysis.
Researchers today are studying patients that are able to recover from dialysis – like our John– to understand what factors can predict if the patient will have a chance to recover. To go out of dialysis.
Now John’s story is not something I’m making up. This is a real story. It’s a case report that was published on a prestigious paper. When he was 59 years old, John was admitted to a hospital with unexplainable headache and vomiting.
His blood pressure was extremely high measuring 228/138?mm Hg. His creatinine was high too – which told his doctor that his kidneys weren’t working very good. He was then diagnosed with hemolytic-uremic syndrome – it’s a disease of the blood that affects the kidneys.
However, it was the treatment for this condition that completely stopped his kidneys. After a few days, he became anuric and had to start dialysis. He was on dialysis for almost one year and half.
But then, he recovered. In this article I want to show you what John did – I am going to call him John to preserve his identity – because he is not the only one that has made it out of dialysis for chronic kidney disease.
.. alive. Yes, this can happen. More than 4% of chronic dialysis patients get out of it. This is why researchers are working to find guidelines – a series of signs and symptoms that mean that a patient on dialysis doesn’t actually need… dialysis. The problem is that, today, these guidelines do not exist. This means that when a patient starts dialysis, it’s for life. Even in the rare cases when the patient doesn’t actually need dialysis.
Now, if you want to be sure this doesn’t happen to you or to someone you love, there are five signs and symptoms you should be on the look out for. This is how John got out of dialysis.
After 1 year on dialysis, doctors started to investigated John’s sister as a possible donor for a kidney. They didn’t believe he had a chance. Not until he started developing symptoms of dialysis intolerance – such as muscle cramps and low blood pressure.
Which is the first signs. The second sign is that he started skipping dialysis sessions when he could. After another month, he started having nausea during every single dialysis session. Eventually, the dialysis treatment was reduced to once a week.
Then he had another problem during dialysis. He wasn’t able to complete the session without having to pee. This is when his doctors decided to test his kidney function again. When the doctors found out shocked them! John’s kidney function – after 18 months on dialysis – was back at 21%. Enough to sustain him without dialysis. Also, his blood pressure was down to 120/60. 514 days after the start of treatment, dialysis was withdrawn completely.
The patient was monitored every week. What doctors discovered about him is that… More about this later on in this article. Now, as I was saying, this situation is more common than people realize.
So, what signs and symptoms indicates that a dialysis patient doesn’t actually need dialysis? – hypotension Many patients incorrectly on dialysis develop low blood pressure during dialysis session.– muscle cramps and fatigue Patients who regain kidney function after starting dialysis, often suffer from various problems caused by the unbalances in minerals and fluids caused by dialysis.
– dialysis intolerance Dialysis can be very hard on the body, especially if the patient doesn’t need it. This may be noticed when symptoms such as nausea and vomiting happen during sessions.
– less need for dialysis When they feel they don’t need dialysis anymore, many patients start to skip sessions or to reduce dialysis time. Now, the most important sign that a patient need way less dialysis than he is receiving – or no dialysis at all – urine output all the patients who got out of dialysis vocalized an increment in urine output while on dialysis, and some patients had to frequently interrupt the dialysis session to pass urine.
what to do if you have one or more of these symptoms during dialysis? While symptoms such as nausea and low blood pressure during dialysis are common, they should always be reported. Tell your dialysis team if you experience any of these issues so they can try to help.
But they are not necessarily a clue that a patient doesn’t need dialysis. On the other hand, the need to urinate should never be underestimated. It means that the kidneys are working.
Patients undergoing dialysis with urine out-put should ask for renal function check periodically. Yes, they should ask for it. Residual renal function in dialysis patients is very rarely monitored – even in those with residual urine output.
Now, this is how doctors understood that John didn’t need dialysis anymore. But I bet you want to know what he did in those 524 to maximize his chances of getting out of dialysis.
There are 4 ways to maximize the chances of recovering kidney function that work in all the stages of kidney disease – even for people on dialysis. 4 Take steps to fight anemia Hemoglobin levels are a good predictor of the survival rate of people on dialysis.
And they are also crucial to manage fatigue. This means that you should do everything in your power to fight anemia – the cause of low hemoglobin levels. This is actually very important for people in any stage of kidney disease.
A simple trick to do this is eating foods rich in iron – such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, beet greens at the same time as a food rich in vitamin C – such as kiwi, lemon, strawberry and more.
Doing this regularly will provide your body with enough iron, and will make it bioavailable. If this is not enough, a multivitamin can help. Many vitamins are needed by the body to make red blood cells, but Vitamin C, vitamin b12 and folate are particularly useful.
Now, these dietary changes and supplements may help, but some patients, especially those in the advanced stages, may still need to take a medication called Erythropoietin. So, very important, if you have symptoms of anemia such as fatigue and paleness and you’ve not been diagnosed or are not being appropriately treated, talk to your doctor.
Don’t let Anemia go untreated – it reduces the flow of oxygen throughout your body, which damages your kidneys and forces your heart to work harder. This is the opposite of what you want.
Actually, another step you can take to protect your heart is 3 take care of your blood pressure FACT People in all the stages of kidney disease need to take care of their blood pressure – including those on dialysis.
Both to preserve their heart and their kidneys. And, while taking the medications your doctor may prescribe to you is really important, there are natural remedies that can help. If you need to manage high blood pressure Garlic is one of the best home remedies you can use.
It works fast and can help manage both high blood pressure and cholesterol. Magnesium, both from supplements and foods, is also going to do wonders for your blood pressure. And you can find magnesium for very cheap.
Omega 3 fatty acids, this is another remedy everyone should be using. In the right dosage, this is a powerful anti-inflammatory, with blood pressure lowering and triglycerides lowering properties.
And what about diabetes? Did you know that there’s a vitamin that can prevent diabetes from damaging the kidneys and the other organs in the body if taken in very high dosage? I’ve talked about it in my last article, it’s up here if you want to know more.
Now, there’s a little-known way to lower blood pressure that works even for people on dialysis 2 exercising FACT Today’s guidelines suggest even dialysis patients to exercise regularly! even while doing dialysis, if they can.
according to a recent study, incorporation of exercise into the dialysis session may be really helpful. And for those of you guys that are not on dialysis and really want to improve their kidney function, consider that exercise is the best way to improve blood circulation.
Improved circulation will directly increase the rate blood is filtered through the kidneys. So it will basically… improve kidney function. Other proven benefits of exercising include lowering blood pressure, keeping a healthy body weight, and improving sleep.
All of this is crucial for kidney health. But obviously consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. And, the most important way in which exercising can help is 1 lower cholesterol and improve heart health Abnormal cholesterol causes fatty deposits to form in your arteries, making it easier to form clots which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
A serious and very common danger for people with kidney problems. Besides exercising and following a plant-based diet, there’s one thing that really helps with cholesterol levels.
Taking omega 3 supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for most of the benefits associated with a diet rich in seafood. In fact, they can protect against heart disease and stroke.
they can improve sleep quality, bone and joint health, reduce fat in the liver and are even associated with a lower risk for cancer. This is a supplement every one should take, in my opinion.
Now guys, I bet you want to know if John had a happily ever after. He was checked for kidney function two times after getting out of dialysis. The first time, one year after withdrawal of dialysis, his GFR was 21.
This is stage 4 of CKD, which requires medications but no dialysis. Then, after 6 months, he was checked for renal function again. This time doctors were shocked to know that his kidney function went up to 24 – which is closer to stage 3 than dialysis.
His blood pressure was normal, he was in very good health. He was working full time and enjoying his life. Bottom-line Not many patients on dialysis can expect to regain their kidney function after more than one year of dialysis.
But it can happen. And there are several forthcoming treatments that could be a beacon of hope for people with advanced kidney disease. The 3d printed kidney is one of them, but the portable dialysis is even closer.