The Unspoken Dangers Of Driving On Dialysis And Necessary Precautions

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Non-emergency transportation can be costly and very stressful for many Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients especially on Hemodialysis (HD). Public buses can run late, taxis can become quite expensive, and dialysis patients may feel like they are a burden on family members or friends who volunteer rides. For this reason, many on dialysis drive themselves before and after their treatments in-center and at home. However, driving is not without its dangers.

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Many people who are on HD describe cramping, severe bleeding, loss or blurred vision, and fatigue while driving, specifically when they get off of dialysis. While in-center patients may be at the most risk of experiencing negative side effects, this relates to Home HD patients as well because they may have errands after their treatment that may cause them to suffer the above challenges. Regardless, there are a few important precautions that dialysis patients should take to ensure their safety while driving. 

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Low Blood Pressure: If you suffer low blood pressure when driving you may feel faint and your vision can become blurred. Be sure to pull over. Often low blood pressure can be a cause of dehydration, so be sure to always have a bottle of water in the car while you are driving after dialysis. 

Treatment Time: If you are an in-center patient and drive yourself, you may consider scheduling an earlier treatment time to avoid traffic on the roads. This will help you to get home sooner to recuperate. 

Bleeding-Out: Several patients have discussed with KidneyBuzz.com and openly in forums the fact that they have suffered at least one "bleed-out" episode. Hence, be sure to keep the appropriate bandages in your car's glove compartment in case you suffer profuse bleeding while on the road. Also, discuss with your Health Care Team the correct use of a tourniquet should it becomes necessary. If you show signs of severe bleeding, you should pull over immediately, to correct the issue. 

If you are continually finding that you are "wiped out" after your dialysis treatment and greatly fatigued to the point that you find it dangerous to drive, you may consider talking to your Nephrologists about adjusting your dialysis cleaning to a more manageable level for your body. After all, dialysis should allow you to lead a  happier and healthier life and provide you with the ability to do "normal things," such as drive. 

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Also, if you find that you are unfit or unable to drive, then you should know that in general Medicare does not pay for transportation to dialysis, unless your doctor says that you need an ambulance. In some cases, a family member has had to give up a paying job to drive a loved one to and from dialysis. If this happens, family income is reduced even further. Fresenius Medical Care recommends that instead of giving up a job, "it might make more sense to keep the job and pay a driver." Your social worker can help you sort out further transit options. 

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References: 

"Traveling to the Facility." Http://www.ultracare-dialysis.com/. Fresenius Medical Care Inc.

Bush, Rex. "Five Deadly Dangers of Dialysis." Http://ezinearticles.com/. Ezine Articles. 

Dodge, Allison. "How to Correct Low Blood Pressure | EHow." Http://www.ehow.com/. Demand Media.