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Balancing Kidney Disease and Wellness – SMCV Advocates for Greater Patient Empowerment

Image of a doctor in a white coat and kidneys above his hands. Concept of a healthy kidneys.

In conjunction with World Kidney Day this year, themed ‘Living Well with Kidney Disease’, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV)’s professionals are raising awareness on patient empowerment and support to deliver the ultimate goal of living well in spite of their circumstances.

Patients with kidney disease will undergo major lifestyle changes such as diet and daily activities to include treatments. However, this does not mean that people who live with the disease cannot enjoy a well-balanced life or manage their symptoms effectively.

Dr Lim Soo Jin, Consultant Nephrologist from SMCV explains that while there are various stages of kidney disease such as early, mid, or late stage, the patients should recognise symptoms of the disease to receive treatment as early as possible.

“The kidney plays an important role in regulating our body’s water, electrolytes and pH level, and most people are found to have kidney disease through routine health checks or when they develop signs or symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, sleep problems, swelling of the legs and high blood pressure. There are also various screenings and tests to detect underlying kidney diseases such as taking a renal profile, Urine full examination microscopy examination (FEME) and kidney ultrasound. All of these can help the patient address their concerns at an early stage for a better outcome,” he says.

For patients who have been diagnosed with kidney disease, here are some tips shared by SMCV’s professionals to enable them to have a more fulfilling, enriched life.

Get Active
Appropriate exercise is beneficial for kidney patients, although many may not have the opportunity or believe they cannot exercise. For those who can, it is important to tailor the exercise to the individual and their circumstances. It will help to lower one’s blood pressure, increase energy levels and even help with doing daily household activities. Remember to always take it one step at a time and seek their doctor’s advice before attempting anything that may be too strenuous for them.

Say No to Smoking
Kidney patients generally feel weaker and more tired than they used to, and smoking will only affect their lung and heart functions as well. Giving up smoking is one of the most important things a patient can do to slow the progression of both kidney and heart failure. Smoking can lead to poor blood flow to the kidneys and cause even more damage over time, so it is best for them to kick the habit!

Eat right, feel right
For individuals suffering from chronic kidney failure, Senior Dietitian Ang Yi Pei notes that the main dietary management goal is to delay disease progressions while maintaining a good diet. Although each patient’s dietary need is based on their condition, generally patients are encouraged to eat the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and to reduce salt intake, control potassium and phosphate intake and fluid intake if the patient has fluid retention. Foods to avoid include starfruit that can cause neurotoxicity, bak kwa, meat floss, processed meat and foods which are high in sodium. It is also advisable to limit the intake of red meat and foods high in trans-fat such as french fries, doughnuts, cookies, croissants, and other deep-fried foods.

Schedule It In
While undergoing treatment, it can be overwhelming for patients to remember what medications to take at which point of the day and doing so can feel like a chore to most. However, creating a timetable and setting reminders can help. Whether the patient prefers to use a pill organiser, a schedule chart or even a medication app, there are many ways to help one take the right medication at the right time to treat the conditions and symptoms they are experiencing.

Support System
It goes without saying that any patient living with a disease, no matter how serious, require support from the people around them. Caretakers and family members may also need support from others who understand what they are going through, so it is important to speak up and seek help from others who can help – suffering in silence will not have a good impact on the person’s mental wellbeing. It is also important that the patient and caretaker have an open communication to discuss what are each other’s needs, so both can go through the process as comfortably as possible.

Patients with kidney disease can still live a fulfilling life by making choices that best suit their needs and conditions. Not every patient will receive the same results, so it is important to remember to take it one step at a time and to prioritise their own personal goals whether in treatment or in life.

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