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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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How Does Dialysis Treatment Work?

If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with kidney disease, you probably have a lot of questions, concerns and worry. While being told you have kidney disease is never welcome news, dialysis is a treatment that can help. Dialysis replaces the many vital functions of the kidneys and restores your blood to a normal, healthy state.

What do kidneys do?

Healthy kidneys work hard day and night to filter out harmful waste and excess fluid from the blood. This process keeps your blood healthy and you body functioning properly. Every day, these bean-shaped organs process 120 to 150 quarts of blood and produce approximately one to two quarts of urine. They are also responsible for regulating the amount of sodium, phosphorus and potassium in your body.

How does dialysis treatment work?

Dialysis is an artificial replacement for lost kidney function and is often used as a holding measure until a kidney transplant can be performed. Dialysis can help otherwise healthy people live full and active lives.

Before beginning dialysis treatments, your doctor will insert a fistula or catheter into your vein to help your blood to flow more easily from your body to the dialysis machine. Before your treatment, your doctor may give you a numbing medicine to eliminate any discomfort you may feel while the needle is inserted into the fistula or catheter. The needles are essential because they create a complete loop through the pump and filter of the dialysis machine.

What happens during dialysis treatment?

Your blood will flow from your body through the dialysis machine and back again. The process generally takes about three hours per session. Your blood pressure, weight and temperature will be taken before and after the procedure to confirm enough waste has been removed and you are in a condition that is suitable for leaving the facility.

Your doctor will then turn on the pump of the dialysis machine and set a timer. About every half hour your blood pressure will be taken to ensure it does not become too low. Low blood pressure can occur when too much fluid is removed from the blood.

What happens after treatment?

Following treatment, you may experience fatigue or physical weakness. This may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. To help avoid or limit any fatigue and physical weakness, you may need to lengthen the time between your dialysis treatments. Lengthening the time in between dialysis treatments will help remove waste more slowly and lessen the severity of any side effects.

While dialysis can be uncomfortable, it’s a necessary treatment for those suffering from kidney disease or kidney failure. If you’re interested in learning more about dialysis treatment or in-home dialysis treatment, please contact experienced doctors at South Texas Renal Care Group. We are ready to support your kidney health and provide compassionate care during your dialysis treatments. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at 844-739-2897.

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Understanding Kidney Dialysis

What is kidney dialysis?

Kidney dialysis is a treatment used to filter harmful wastes and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys cannot do it on their own. Dialysis takes the place of many vital kidney functions and restores the blood to a normal, healthy state.

Who needs kidney dialysis?

People who suffer from conditions such as kidney disease and kidney failure have difficulty with normal kidney function. When the kidneys don’t work properly, severe and sometimes fatal consequences can occur. Harmful substances can build up in the body, blood pressure can increase, and excess fluid can gather in the body’s tissues. Dialysis is usually recommended when you’ve lost about 85 to 90 percent of your kidney function.

Types of kidney dialysis

There are two types of kidney dialysis. These include:

Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis uses a machine to filter the blood properly. Prior to your first hemodialysis session, an entrance to one of your blood vessels is created, called vascular access. This allows the body to be connected to the dialysis machine. The blood is removed a little at a time and then returned when it’s clean. Dialysis treatments are usually scheduled a few times each week.

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood using the lining of the abdominal region as a filter. This method allows for the blood to be cleaned while performing normal daily tasks like sleeping or working.

Similar to hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis requires a procedure to create access to clean the blood. Through a small incision, a flexible catheter is inserted into the abdominal area that envelops the stomach and organs, also called the peritoneal cavity.

Once the procedure is complete, you will be instructed how to place the cleaning solution (dialysate) into the catheter. The treatment has three main steps:

  • Fill – The cleaning solution moves through the catheter into the abdominal region.
  • Dwell – Waste products and extra fluid in the blood flow through the thin tissue that lines the peritoneal cavity and are extracted into the cleaning solution. This process takes anywhere from four to six hours.
  • Drain – The wastes and extra fluid are removed from the body by draining the cleaning solution.

There are two options to peritoneal dialysis:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) – The dialysis solution is placed directly into the catheter, allowing you to go about your everyday activities.
  • Continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) – A machine is used to fill and drain the cleaning solution from your abdominal region, usually conducted while you sleep.

You don’t have to tackle kidney disease and kidney failure on your own. The physicians at South Texas Renal Care Group are here to provide experienced, compassionate care for you during this difficult time. Call (210) 390-0944 to make your appointment today.

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National Kidney Month: Are You At Risk For Kidney Disease?

What is kidney disease?
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering excess fluid and waste from the blood, to be disposed of in your urine. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter these substances on their own, leading to dangerously high levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes building up in the body. This can result in serious complications that can sometimes be fatal. With March being National Kidney Month, it’s important to understand the risk factors associated with kidney disease.

Symptoms of kidney disease
Early stages of kidney disease may only exhibit a few signs or symptoms. Because of this, your kidney function may already be significantly impaired without your knowledge. Symptoms develop over time and may include:

  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Urine changes
  • Inhibited mental function
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Foot and ankle swelling
  • Constant itching
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hiccups

Symptoms and signs of kidney disease can be nonspecific, which means they can also be the result of other conditions. And because the kidneys are resilient and able to compensate for impaired function, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.

Are you at risk?
There are a number of risk factors associated with kidney disease. Kidney disease is often the result of another disease or condition that impairs kidney function, with damage worsening over time. Diseases and conditions that can increase your risk for kidney disease are:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filters)
  • Interstitial nephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures)
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (urine backup in the kidneys)
  • Recurrent kidney infections (pyelonephritis)
  • Prolonged urinary tract blockage caused by conditions like kidney stones, enlarged prostate, and some cancers

Further, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney disease. These factors include:

  • Family history of kidney disease
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Ethnic backgrounds such as African-American, Native American or Asian-American

Treating kidney disease
Complications resulting from kidney disease can be severe and even fatal. Your treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your individual case. In less severe cases, kidney disease complications can be controlled to make you more comfortable. In more advanced stages of kidney disease, your kidneys can no longer keep up with waste and fluid clearance on their own. At this phase, more aggressive treatments are used, such as dialysis and kidney transplants.

The physicians and staff at South Texas Renal Care Group are committed to the health and treatment of your kidneys. If you have recently been diagnosed with kidney disease, or are experiencing symptoms of kidney disease call (210) 390-0944 to schedule an appointment today.

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