The word ‘immunity’ has probably never been used as much as it was in 2020. As we stand on the verge of exiting the year, the pandemic forces us to rethink what we believed about immunity. In regular times, most of us do not consciously think of our immunity. We can venture out, indulge in street food, explore new places without worrying about potential infection. However, with COVID-19, we’ve become more aware and cautious about what we consume, where we go and how we interact with the world. The pandemic has also restricted our external engagements and activities. It was stressful for all of us. However, the situation was worse for those whose immune systems are compromised—for instance, people who have cancer, autoimmune conditions, or weaker immune systems. People with kidney issues come under the latter category. There are many reasons why kidney function is affected. High blood pressure, diabetes, genetic conditions are all causes for kidney failure.
Dialysis patients and COVID-19
Regardless of the cause, dialysis might be required to help kidney functions either temporarily or permanently. Dialysis is a treatment where excess water and toxins are removed from the body. The procedure takes about 4 hours and might have to be repeated twice or thrice a week, depending on the patient's condition. Hemodialysis sessions can be done in the hospital, or a private centre or even at home. COVID-19 has created challenges for those who need to undergo dialysis frequently. Kidney patients are among the high-risk category and can be prone to infections. The frequent travel to the dialysis centre leaves them vulnerable to infections. They are also on a strict renal diet.
Dr Prashant C Dheerendra (Consultant Nephrologist, Apollo Dialysis Clinics, Bangalore) shares some critical things that can be done at home to ensure fitness and immunity
- Avoid herbal supplements: You may get advised now and then from a friend or family member about how herbal supplements have improved their health and well being. Herbal supplements might be sufficient for them, but they can be dangerous for kidney patients undergoing dialysis. Herbal supplements are often unsafe for kidney patients since some of these supplements can worsen as kidneys cannot clear waste products built up in the body.
- Maintain a proper sleep cycle: Maintaining a healthy sleep cycle for the dialysis patient is essential. They should get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Improper sleep cycle lowers the ability to fight infection and increases inflammation. It is always advisable to sleep for seven to eight hours every night.
- Bridging gap between nutrition and immunity: Malnutrition leads to low immunity, leading to a weaker body for dialysis patients. Careful diet planning is a must for a dialysis patient. Each patient is different, and it is essential to consult a certified dietician and your doctor to ensure an adequately guided plan.
- Include light walking in daily routine: Walking should be a part of the daily routine for a dialysis patient, as some are not allowed to do high-intensity workouts. Try to get in A 30-minute walk each day in the sun. Sunlight is critical to developing strong immunity and is beneficial for all.
- Regular Blood Tests: Most kidney conditions are often challenging to diagnose without blood tests. Frequent blood tests and consultations can provide a good idea of the body's state, and the treatment plan amended accordingly.
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