Mitigating COVID-19 risk among kidney patients through basic lifestyle changes and adoption of peritoneal dialysis
Dr Deepthi Ayanavelli, Consultant Nephrologist, ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad shares insights on the alarming state of affairs for people suffering from Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKDs) and highlights the need of considering lifestyle changes and adopting alternative and convenient ways of carrying out therapies
The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has triggered many challenges and a slew of steps have been taken to contain the spread of the virus in the country, including a nation-wide lockdown. More than a lakh of the Indian population has been tested COVID-19-positive and over 3,000 people have died since January 2020.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF&W), people having co-morbidities like Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), who are on dialysis, are at an increased risk of contracting the deadly virus. India has approximately 4,950 dialysis centres that are now facing a staff crunch as the country is battling the outbreak of the deadly virus. There are 0.2 million kidney disease patients who get added in India and require 34 million dialysis sessions in total every year and the current situation has made things challenging for them. The alarming state of affairs highlight the need of considering lifestyle changes and adopting alternative and convenient ways of carrying out therapies, such as home-based dialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis (PD).
Understanding the benefits of Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
PD is a painless therapy as it does not require vascular access or needling, and close medical supervision, but offers greater flexibility and freedom in the treatment schedule as it can be carried remotely, does not put pressure on the heart, involves minimum complications and fewer dietary restrictions. It is a cost-effective therapy, especially for people in rural areas who usually have to travel long distances for the therapy. This will enable them to lead a better quality of life. It is also suitable for young children below five years as it makes their lifestyle flexible. These factors make PD a preferred choice of treatment therapy as it allows patients to use it from home thereby restraining their visits to the dialysis centre.
Lifestyle hacks to keep your kidneys healthy during COVID-19
It is rightly said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When suffering from CKD, patients can slow the progress of the disease by making some healthy lifestyle choices listed below:
Obesity and kidney health: Being overweight is directly linked to kidney disease. Kidney problems are more likely to develop in people with obesity, including those with hypertension and diabetes. It is imperative to consume fewer calories and maintain a healthy weight. One should eat healthy not only to avoid obesity, but also to ensure that they get adequate nutrients for proper functioning of the organs. Patients should create an exercise regime and a diet planner.
Stay in touch with the doctor through telemedicine: During COVID-19, it is advisable for kidney patients to stay in constant touch with their doctors virtually. One should take all appropriate measures to keep their blood pressure and sugar levels in control, as people with kidney diseases are more susceptible to CKD.
Avoid over-the-counter medications: One should avoid over-the-counter painkillers for any pain or joint swelling without doctor’s prescription. If taken too often and regularly, these medicines can cause damage to the kidneys.
Maintain safe distances: One should always follow the social distancing norms, along with the proper usage of masks. At home or in public, proper coughing etiquettes should be followed.
Basic COVID-19 precautions and hygiene should be duly followed: Before carrying PD, wash hands with soap or use an alcohol-based sanitiser. Do not visit the doctor or go out to get medicines. Alternate arrangements like a video/audio call or getting a home delivery of medicines should be considered.
Avoid drinking and smoking: To remain healthy in times of crisis, one should avoid smoking or drinking as these can increase the chance of high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of kidney failure.
Dialysis demand in India is growing at a rate of 31 per cent, compared to six per cent in the United States and eight per cent in the rest of the world. Even though most of the CKD patients start dialysis, financial crunch compels about two-third of them to withdraw and succumb to death. Dialysis costs Rs three to four lakhs annually. Patients visit dialysis centre thrice a week and cover long distances that leads to heavy costs for them. PD does not require a close medical supervision, making it a viable and feasible alternative to manage dialysis staying indoors during the pandemic.