A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found what most Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients already anecdotally (based on casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis) knew, "Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has an adverse effect on digestive function." Common issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, abdominal pain, and constipation often cause Chronic Kidney Disease patients, especially those on Dialysis, to experience a lower quality of life and prevent them from doing things that they would otherwise enjoy such as light exercise, fun outings, errands, cooking, and more. The following is a list of Home Remedies presented by Dr. Donald M. Vickery and Dr. James F. Fries, published by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which may offer solutions for patients to combat common digestive tract issues.
1. Nausea and Vomiting: These symptoms should not last long. They commonly suggest viral infection (with no fever) of the digestive tract, excess food consumption, minor emotional stress, along with other issues related to Chronic Kidney Disease. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, then common home treatments include avoiding solid foods and limiting how much you eat or drink at one time. To settle the stomach, enjoy water, Ginger Ale, or ice chips (try to remain within your fluid restrictions). As you are feeling better, consider eating jello and work your way slowly up to your normal Renal and/or Diabetic diet.
2. Diarrhea: Diarrhea can be caused by issues beyond Chronic Kidney Disease specifically. Examples include a liquid or food intolerance, stress, anxiety, use of laxatives or poor Dialysis Cleaning. For patients with Chronic Kidney Disease, applesauce may help slow down the bowel. Patients may discuss with their Nephrologists, the idea of taking a tablespoon of Kaopectate (oral medication that may help treat diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and upset stomach) after each bowel movement. According to the good doctors Vickery and Fries, "If Kaopectate is not effective, try Parepectolin or Parelixir." Please note that patients should always discuss taking any medication (over the counter or otherwise) with their Healthcare Team, before beginning a regimen.
3. Heartburn: The cause of heartburn is often an irritation of the stomach or of the esophagus (the tube which leads from the mouth to the stomach). If the pain is worse upon lying down, then the esophagus is likely the issue. Avoid substances which aggravate the problem such as coffee, tea, beans, cheese, and wheat. Also, attempt to avoid reclining after eating. Try to elevate the head of the bed by four (4) to six (6) inches (if possible) using blocks or pillows. Moreover, try to wear looser fitting clothing and do not eat or drink for two (2) hours prior to sleep.
4. Abdominal Pain: Pain in the abdomen can be a sign of a serious condition. Fortunately minor causes for these symptoms are much more frequent. In order to help alleviate the pain then consider taking sips of water or clear soda (Sprite, Ginger Ale), but avoid solid foods. Do not hold back from using the restroom or belching as it may offer relief. Similarly, a warm shower or bath has been associated with relief in some patients. Moreover, peppermint tea and warm lemon water can help relax stomach muscles. This is especially useful if suffering from indigestion or gas/bloating. Any persistent pain should be evaluated at the Emergency Room since it may indicate a more serious issue.
5. Constipation and Pain: Abdominal pain and swollen abdomen suggest constipation. If you are having issues with constipation then discuss with your Dietitian about incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your Renal diet for their natural laxative action from fiber. Fiber helps to ease and soften bowel movements. While Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients should avoid milk, they may discuss the idea of a name brand laxative such as Metamucil with their Nephrologists if they are still suffering from constipation and pain.
If symptoms persist then Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients might want to call their Nephrologists or in very serious cases go to the Emergency Room. Sometimes stomach pain could be signs of a major issue such as ulcers, fluid build up (congestion), heart failure, and heart attack (pain in upper abdomen).
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