Learning more about kidney disease

Published 7:30 am Saturday, May 27, 2023

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Instead of viewing Hospice as giving up on life, Hospice should be viewed as a way to face the end of life with dignity.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Today we will discuss renal disease, also referred to as kidney disease. Most everyone knows kidneys help with waste excretion (urine), blood pressure maintenance, blood cell regulation, acid management, and water level balance. However, what not everyone knows is our kidneys also produce numerous vital hormones, and these hormones help regulate things such as our moods, our appetite, and our sleep patterns.

Some of the early symptoms of renal/ kidney disease are;

  • Tiredness
  • Pain, most often side or back pain
  • Brain Fog
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Coldness
  • Anemia
  • Slow healing
  • Itchiness
  • Change in taste
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Puffiness and swelling
  • Frequent urination (sometimes color change or appearance such as foaming)

Of course, there are many other health problems that may cause symptoms on this list. The only way to know the cause of YOUR symptoms is to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Because it is progressive, there are five stages of kidney disease. Treatment options will vary depending on the cause and overall health of the individual. If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, your doctor will work to slow disease progression or control the reason. However, kidney damage can continue to worsen even when an underlying condition, such as diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure, has been controlled. Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease has no cure.

When kidney disease has advanced to the final stages, consider speaking to your healthcare provider about what hospice services could offer. Hospice for renal disease helps patients maintain the best possible quality of life during the final months, weeks, and days. Patients on hospice are less likely to experience emergency room visits and hospitalizations and having support of hospice staff helps relieve the emotional and mental stress of the caregivers.

Patients with chronic kidney disease may be eligible for hospice services if they:

  • Choose not to receive dialysis, choose to stop dialysis, or if their physician believes that would not be able to tolerate/be a candidate for dialysis.
  • Have a creatinine clearance level of 8.0 mg/dl or higher without diabetes or 6.0 mg/dl or higher with co-occurring diabetes
  • Have other illnesses (called co-morbids) that could be affected by kidney disease, such as congestive heart failure.

If you have been diagnosed with Renal/Kidney disease and have questions about Hospice please call and make an appointment with your physician or call a local Hospice of your choice.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” — Nelson Mandela

— Vickie Wacaster is a patient advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice).