What Are the Benefits of Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is the process of cleaning impurities out of your blood when your kidneys can no longer do it effectively. This process is often used to treat advanced kidney failure, which helps those with failing kidneys to continue to live an active lifestyle.

Differences between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis

Hemodialysis uses a dialysis machine and a special filter called a hemodialyzer, or artificial kidney, to filter waste and remove extra fluid from the blood. To access your blood, your doctor will need to create a small incision on your arm to create an access point to your blood vessels.

In peritoneal dialysis, the lining of your stomach acts as a natural filter. Your doctor will surgically place a soft plastic tube (catheter) into your stomach. During the treatment, a sterile cleansing fluid goes directly to your stomach through this catheter. After the filtering process is finished, the fluid leaves your body back through the same catheter.

Benefits of hemodialysis

Aside from allowing people to continue living a relatively normal life, hemodialysis has other benefits, such as:

  • Hemodialysis requires less time than peritoneal dialysis
    Hemodialysis treatments may occur at a hospital, dialysis center or your own home three times a week, with each session lasting between three and five hours. This leaves most of the week dialysis-free. By contrast, peritoneal dialysis takes between 10 and 12 hours every day.
  • Hemodialysis carries a relatively low risk of infection
    Hemodialysis uses and arteriovenous (AV) fistula, which is the gold standard vascular access used to access a person’s blood. Common complications of peritoneal dialysis include infections of the abdominal lining or at the site where the catheter is inserted to carry the cleansing fluid.
  • Hemodialysis requires less surgical interventions
    AV fistulas for dialysis last many years, longer than transplanted kidneys and catheters for peritoneal dialysis. This type of dialysis does not typically require additional surgeries.

If you or a loved one is in need of expert dialysis care in South Texas, call South Texas Renal Care Group, voted Best Nephrologists by Scene San Antonio, at 844-739-2897 to schedule an appointment with one of the best kidney doctors in the area.

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How to Avoid Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is caused by chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition affecting 30 million Americans.

CKD signifies lasting damage to the kidneys, which can worsen over time to the point that your kidneys may stop functioning. This is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. Fortunately, you can find effective, compassionate dialysis care in South Texas in multiple locations in San Antonio and neighboring towns.

Although anyone can develop chronic kidney disease, some people are more at risk than others. Some factors that increase your risk for CKD include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Having a family member with kidney disease
  • Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian
  • Being 60 years old or more

Can kidney failure be avoided?

Because high blood pressure and diabetes are among the leading causes of CKD, managing these conditions is the key to decreasing your chances of progressive CKD and kidney failure. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, be sure to work closely with your doctor to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control. This is the best possible way to prevent kidney disease.

Making healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way to help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, or help keep them in check. To lower your risk for kidney disease and the problems that cause it:

  • Consume a low-salt, low-fat diet
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise three to four times per week
  • See your doctor for regular checkups
  • Avoid smoking, vaping and using tobacco
  • Limit alcohol

Award-winning kidney care in South Texas

At South Texas Renal Care Group, we are proud to be a recognized leader in treating chronic kidney disease. Our passion for providing people of San Antonio and South Texas exceptional care shines through in our dedication to being the best nephrologists we can be. This hard work has earned us a spot on Texas Monthly’s Super Doctors® list and Vital’s 10 Years of Community Service and Patient’s Choice awards.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 844-739-2897 or click here to use our online form.

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Is Dialysis Safe?

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine, just below the ribcage. They are responsible for purifying the blood as well as removing any excess waste and fluids from the body. When they stop doing their job well, or at all, your doctor will likely recommend dialysis treatments to keep your body functioning as normally as possible. While dialysis isn’t a cure for kidney disease, it can help increase longevity and improve quality of life.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is an artificial way to clean your blood. Hemodialysis, the most common type of dialysis, uses a hemodialyzer or artificial kidney. This machine removes impurities and waste from the blood and returns it to the patient. Before the first dialysis treatment, a vascular access (entrance) point is created. This allows the blood to flow from the body to the artificial kidney and back again. Dialysis treatment typically lasts three to five hours and required at least three times per week.

What are the risks associated with dialysis?

For some kidney conditions and disorders, dialysis can temporarily take over kidney function until your own kidneys have time to heal and begin to function well on their own again. Peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis are both life-saving treatments, especially for those suffering from chronic kidney disease. However, like all medical treatments and procedures, they can have certain side effects that include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • High blood potassium levels
  • Itching
  • Muscle cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Anemia
  • Depression

Anyone requiring long-term dialysis may suffer additional complications like headache, vomiting, drowsiness, dehydration, infection, low sodium or fever. However, when dialysis treatments are done as recommended by a medical professional, it will protect as much normal kidney function as possible. Dialysis also helps prevent complications like kidney failure, which is caused by excess waste and toxins in the blood.

If you or a loved one is in need of high quality, experienced dialysis care in San Antonio contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897. Recognized by Scene San Antonio as one of the area’s best nephrology groups, our physicians are dedicated to managing your health and well being through comprehensive, individualized treatment plans.

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Tips to Pass the Time During Dialysis

Dialysis treatments can last between three and four hours and are done three times a week. When you add it up, that’s 9-12 hours each week you can spend on a number of activities or hobbies to help pass the time and keep your mind engaged.

Activities you can enjoy during dialysis

Your treatment provides you with a good opportunity to catch up on things you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the time, or to just relax. Here are a few interesting recommendations:

  • Do
    Catch up things like paying bills, responding to emails, shopping online and other odds and ends that may not be urgent, but need your attention. Being productive not only passes the time, but it gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Write
    Bring a laptop so you can blog, journal or tweet about your dialysis experience. If you’re not excited about that idea, you can write about whatever is on your mind, or something you are passionate about.
  • Create
    Knitting, crafting, scrapbooking or enjoying an adult-coloring page are fun, feel-good ways to lift your spirits. Create gifts for other patients, friends or loved ones who need a smile.
  • Socialize
    Take your mind off things and catch up with far away friends and family through your favorite social media tools, or connect with loved ones with text messages.
  • Learn
    Whether it’s reading a book, taking an online class, watching a video or listening to a podcast, the Internet is a great resource for learning. Take advantage of this time and immerse yourself in something new.
  • Meditate
    There are a lot of ways to meditate that do not involve yoga poses! Anything you find enjoyable and helps quiet your mind can have the same benefits as traditional meditation. So try an adult coloring book or tackle a puzzle to help you focus on something other than your treatment.
  • Listen
    Music is a terrific way to pass the time and is one of the best ways to relax during dialysis. Many people who listen to music during their dialysis treatments experience less nausea and pain, so bring your favorite songs, albums or bands with you!

With these tips you can make your dialysis treatments more productive, relaxing and enjoyable. If you need dialysis in South Texas, South Texas Renal Care Group is your resource for experienced, individualized care. Contact 844-739-2897 to learn more about our treatment options.

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Hemodialysis vs. Peritoneal Dialysis

If your kidneys are unable to function on their own, you will need dialysis to help flush toxins from your blood to keep your body healthy. Dialysis replaces the function of your kidneys by removing waste and excess fluid from your bloodstream.

Dialysis can be conducted at home or at a treatment center. For those that go to work, school, have children to care for, enjoy active lifestyles or just want more freedom, home dialysis may be a better option. Unfortunately, not all patients are eligible for each treatment method. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your specific condition and determine which treatment option is best.

Hemodialysis vs. peritoneal dialysis

There are two main types of dialysis to treat kidney failure: Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Let’s take a look at their differences below:

  • Access site
    Your doctor will create a vascular access site in the arm before hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis, on the other hand, requires a catheter, or piece of tubing, placed in your belly.
  • Filter
    Hemodialysis uses a man-made membrane called a dialyzer to clean the blood, whereas peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly.
  • Frequency
    Peritoneal dialysis offers a more flexible dialysis schedule because you will be trained to administer the treatment at home, on your own schedule. Hemodialysis is usually done 3 times per week on a fairly set schedule.
  • Location
    Hemodialysis is typically done in a treatment center three times per week with each session lasting between four and five hours. By contrast, peritoneal dialysis can be done in the comfort of your home on your schedule.

Whether you need treatment for chronic kidney disease related to hypertension or dialysis care in San Antonio, South Texas Renal Care Group is your source for expert, compassionate care. Contact us at 844-739-2897 to learn more about our treatments for chronic kidney disease.

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Why it’s Important to Have Healthy Kidneys

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. It’s important to keep these organs healthy because they are responsible for keeping the rest of your body, especially your blood, healthy.

What do kidneys do?

Keeping your kidneys healthy helps keep the rest of your body healthy. In addition to preventing the build-up of waste and excess fluid in the body, kidneys are responsible for:

  • Balancing fluid content in the body (homeostasis)
    For the cells in our body to work properly, it’s important to balance the amount of water we take in and the amount we lose.
  • Regulating the removal of excess fluids
    Cells in your body can be damaged when too much water enters or leaves them.
  • Producing enzymes that help control blood pressure
    To avoid hypertension or high blood pressure, kidneys help regulate sodium and potassium levels.
  • Producing hormones that help make red blood cells
    Red blood cells help transport oxygen throughout the body to keep organs and muscles healthy.
  • Activating vitamin D
    To keep your bones healthy and strong, the kidneys convert vitamin D into its active form to promote healthy growth and remodeling of bone.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

Kidneys are in charge of removing waste from your blood. Keep them healthy with these tips:

  • Stay hydrated
    Water helps kidneys remove wastes from your body through urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels working well, allowing blood to easily flow to the kidneys.
  • Eat well
    A kidney-friendly diet helps keep your kidneys healthy by reducing your daily intake of protein, phosphorus and sodium.
  • Exercise regularly
    Regular exercise encourages a healthy lifestyle, which in turn helps reduce your risk of obesity, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
  • Say no to tobacco
    Tobacco decreases the amount of blood that can pass through your kidneys by damaging the blood vessels.

Contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897 for experienced kidney disease treatment in South Texas. Our physicians are dedicated to managing the health and well being of kidney disease patients through comprehensive treatment plans.

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Vascular Access Management

A well-functioning vascular access is essential for performing effective hemodialysis. Hemodialysis, or kidney dialysis, is a blood purification procedure. A person with end-stage kidney disease relies on dialysis to mechanically remove fluids, electrolytes and waste products from their blood. Nearly 500,000 people in the United States depend on dialysis to keep their blood free of toxins each year.

What is vascular access?

Vascular access is a surgically created vein that quickly and easily accesses a person’s blood. This access point allows large amounts of blood to flow continuously from the body through a dialysis machine for purification and back to the body.

Proper management of a vascular access

You can avoid complications like infection, stenosis, thrombosis and hemorrhage through proper management of your vascular access point. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure the dialysis needle stick locations are rotated to prevent stenosis and thrombosis (deep vein blood clots) from forming.
  • Confirm the vascular access is functioning properly several times per day. Our skilled specialists will show you how it is supposed to react.
  • Look for any bleeding following dialysis treatment.
  • Watch for signs of infection around the access point.
  • Keep the vascular access and surrounding skin clean and dry.
  • Avoid any tight-fitting clothing or jewelry to ensure medical professionals can access the site easily.
  • Do not use any creams or lotions on the vascular access site.

Vascular access should be established well in advance of your first dialysis to give the lifeline a chance to mature, so it can be ready to use. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with kidney disease, contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897 to schedule an appointment.

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Top Foods for Healthy Kidneys

Chronic kidney disease affects approximately 31 million adults and is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. Kidney disease means the kidneys are damaged and can no longer filter blood effectively. This causes a build up of waste in the body, and storing excess waste can have a negative cascading effect on your overall health.

Those who suffer from diabetes and/or high blood pressure are at a heightened risk of kidney disease. You can reduce your risk of kidney disease by avoiding foods that are high in sugar and sodium, eliminating tobacco products and reducing any long-term pain medications.

Top food and beverage choices for healthy kidneys

While some people are genetically predisposed to kidney problems, many can help fortify the health of your kidneys through kidney-friendly food and beverage choices. These include:

  • Water is a natural, sugar-free drink that helps your kidneys cleanse and rid your body of toxins.
  • Cranberries (and 100 percent cranberry juice) prevent the development and growth of ulcers and bacteria in your urinary tract by making the urine acidic, which helps keep bacteria from sticking to the bladder.
  • Red bell peppers are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against certain cancers, like kidney cancer.
  • Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
  • Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating kidney function.
  • Grapefruit contains the flavonoid, naringenin, which helps decrease the growth of kidney cysts that could lead to kidney failure.
  • Oatmeal is high in fiber, so it’s very effective for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, two of the most common symptoms of chronic kidney disease.
  • Kale is filled with flavonoids, which offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. People with chronic kidney disease often suffer from chronic inflammation as a result. 

Other recommendations for healthy kidneys

It’s also important for those suffering from kidney disease to limit animal-based proteins and phosphorus-rich foods. Generally speaking, meat, dairy, eggs and alcohol are some of the biggest foods to avoid.

Your kidneys are one of your body’s biggest natural detox components; take care of them through a healthy diet. To learn more about kidney health and kidney disease, please contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897. Our experienced kidney specialists are ready to assess your condition, listen to your concerns and design a treatment plan that will meet your individual needs.

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Recommended Diet After Kidney Transplant Surgery

If you or a loved one has advanced or permanent kidney failure, your best option for treatment may be a kidney transplant. A kidney transplant is when a kidney that no longer functions properly is removed and replaced with a donated kidney.

While a kidney transplant is not a cure for kidney disease or renal failure, it is a highly effective treatment. People who receive a new kidney are required to take medicine for the rest of their lives — lives that can, for the most part, be led normally. One important aspect of post-operative care after a kidney transplant is maintaining a heart-healthy, kidney-friendly diet. This will not only help keep your kidneys functioning well, it will help you live a healthier, longer life.

Recommended diet post kidney transplant surgery

Good nutrition plays a key role in successfully recovering from a kidney transplant. Here are some recommendations to keep you and your new kidney healthy:

  • Drink plenty of fluids – Dehydration can be harmful to a new kidney, be sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Increase your protein intake – You need more protein than normal to heal and fight infection following surgery. Fill your plate with lean means, poultry, fish, low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs (or egg substitutes), nuts, peas and soy-based foods.
  • Decrease your potassium – Transplant medications may cause a high potassium level in your blood, try to AVOID foods high in potassium like melons, bananas, avocados, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, chocolate, and lentils.
  • Avoid foods high in sodium – Limit sodium to help control fluid retention that could send your new kidney into overdrive, AVOID foods high in sodium like cured meats, lunch meats, pickles, olives, frozen or canned foods with more than 600 mg of sodium per serving, as well as fast foods.

It’s important to follow a heart-healthy diet to control your weight and lower your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. High cholesterol, if left untreated, can clog the renal arteries and limit blood flow to the kidneys, causing kidney failure. Contact the experienced transplant team at South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897 for more information about our compassionate, experienced kidney transplant surgery team.

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Supplements for Kidney Health

To take supplements, or not to take supplements. It may seem like a simple question. But if you or a loved one has kidney disease or is undergoing dialysis treatments, the answer might not be. The reason? Your body may need more of certain vitamins and minerals, but at the same time, there may be supplements you should avoid. 

The scoop on vitamins and minerals

Humans need vitamins and minerals because our bodies cannot produce them on their own. Vitamins and minerals are substances that aid body function by using the foods you eat. They give you energy, help the body grow and repair tissue, and more.

Nearly all vitamins and minerals come from food. For people with healthy kidneys, it’s much easier to consume nutrients from a balanced diet. But if you have kidney disease or are on dialysis, you may have limits on the types of foods you can eat. In this case, you may not be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need each day.

Supplements for kidney health

Depending on your current health status, health history and blood test results, your doctor may recommend some of the following supplements:

  • B complex – This group of vitamins consists of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid.
  • Additional B vitamins – Thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin help to change the foods you eat into usable energy.
  • Iron – Taking medicine to treat anemia? You may also need to take an iron supplement orally or via injection. You should only take iron if your doctor prescribes it for you.
  • Vitamin C – Works to keep different types of tissue healthy and to help wounds and bruises heal faster.
  • Vitamin D – Can be given as a pill or to dialysis patients during dialysis treatment. Vitamin D supports healthy bones, and recent research suggests it may also guard against heart disease. There are different types of vitamin D, so your doctor will be very specific about the type and amount you should be taking.
  • Calcium – Calcium supports bone health, but in excess, can adhere to phosphorus and deposit in the heart, blood vessels, lungs and other body tissues. Be sure to take only the prescribed amount of calcium.

Supplements that may not be kidney-friendly

For some people with kidney disease, certain vitamins and minerals should be avoided. Some of these include vitamins A, D, E and K, which can build up in the body and cause dizziness and nausea; even death. You should only take these vitamins under strict physician prescription and supervision.

For other people with kidney disease, there are concerns with vitamin C in large doses. Higher amounts of vitamin C may cause a buildup of oxalate, which can cause pain and other issues in the bones and tissues over time. 

Expert, compassionate kidney care in San Antonio and South Texas

Living with and managing kidney disease can be much easier with leading-edge kidney care close to home. With 10 locations in San Antonio and throughout South Texas, South Texas Renal Care Group is here to support you in the bigger picture of living with kidney disease, down to the details of proper nutrition and supplements. Our board-certified kidney specialists are caring and dedicated, and remain at the forefront of kidney care through clinical research trials to contribute to the development of the newest, most effective therapies and treatments.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 844-739-2897 or click here to use our online form.

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