During the summer months many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients may notice that they are experiencing more frequent edema (swelling) than usual. If left untreated, edema can cause serious side effects which greatly limit a Chronic Kidney Disease patient's quality of life including: Pain, difficulty walking, stiffness, stretched skin (which can become itchy and uncomfortable), increased risk of infection in the swollen area, scarring, decreased blood circulation (can cause serious damage to your brain, heart, liver, and limbs), and increased risk of skin ulcers.
Why do Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients experience more frequent swelling in the feet and legs in the summertime? Well, the warm weather during summer causes blood vessels to expand and relax, "which lets more fluid seep into the nearby tissue. Sweating can also leave you dehydrated, which makes swelling in your feet and legs worse," suggested AltMeds Digital Media, LLC.
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Hence, when Dialysis and Chronic Kidney Disease patients stand or sit for long periods of time then gravity starts to work and begins to pull fluid from blood vessels causing swelling. Also, patients must closely watch their diets since summer foods tend to have hidden salt such as hot dogs, grilled meats, and barbecue sauce. Sodium can cause the body to retain fluid and thereby increase swelling.
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Although, many people on Hemodialysis need to limit fluids to about 36 ounces a day, those with Peritoneal Dialysis may have a more liberal fluid intake due to more frequent Dialysis Treatments. However, they too should keep track of their fluid intake and the amount of fluid removed in their Dialysis Exchanges. DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. said, "Too much fluid can still lead to complications like swelling, high blood pressure and shortness of breath."
If Chronic Kidney Disease or Dialysis patients see any redness, blistering or swelling in the legs; especially if it is getting worse, they should consider the following:
- Elevate your swollen feet and legs for a while each day - especially after you’ve been on your feet for a long period of time. This allows gravity to assist in bringing the blood back to the center of your body (where all the important fluid-processing organs are).
- Eat right and reduce your fluid intake. If you are finding that you are over drinking due to the heat and dryness of the summer, then cut your water intake and substitute it with ice or frozen juice popsicles.
- Wear compression socks to help push fluid out of the legs and reduce swelling.
- If your swelling persists then bring it to the attention of your Healthcare Team who can adjust your diet plan or offer additional options.
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