How Long Can You Live On Dialysis With Diabetes

How Long Can You Live On Dialysis With Diabetes

Renal failure is naturally a frightening experience with all patients asking ’How long can you live on dialysis with diabetes?’ Unfortunately this is another question with answers that vary greatly from person to person.

Life expectancy of dialysis patients: how long can you live on dialysis with diabetes

There are various factors influencing the life expectancy of patients undergoing dialysis treatment such as their environment and health conditions. Complications such as hypertension or cardiac disease will all affect the overall lifespan of a diabetic patient on dialysis.

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Diabetes and kidney failure

A set of healthy kidneys perform a number of vital jobs in the body such as filtering your blood, maintaining a fluid balance and produce essential hormones that are responsible for controlling your blood pressure, producing red blood cells and ensuring healthy, strong bones. If your kidneys fails it means that they can no longer perform the vital tasks needed for your survival with the following results:

  • A build-up of dangerous waste materials in your body
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Severe fluid retention
  • The inability to produce sufficient red blood cells
  • When your kidneys fail you need adequate treatment to replace the natural function of your kidneys as you cannot live without it.

Treatment options for kidney failure

There are 3 prominent types of treatment available for people who suffer from kidney failure:

1.  Hemodialysis

In hemodialysis, your blood is cleaned by a dialysis machine with a special filter known as an artificial kidney. Access to your blood is usually gained through a small surgical site in the arm.

2.  Peritoneal dialysis

During peritoneal dialysis, a plastic catheter is placed in the abdomen during surgery. The catheter injects a sterile cleansing liquid into your abdomen and once the filtering process is complete, the catheter drains the liquid as well.

3.  Kidney transplants

A kidney transplant involves transferring a healthy kidney/s from one person to another with little or no kidney function.

Your healthcare practitioner will inform you of all the treatment options available to you and will aid you in making an educated decision. Don’t fear to make the wrong decision as you are always able to change the course of treatment if you wish.

What does diabetic kidney failure treatment involve?

A nephrologist (kidney specialist) will be responsible for developing your treatment plan. Apart from dialysis and even a transplant you have to:

1.  Conduct regular A1C tests

The purpose of an A1C test is to determine your average blood sugar levels over a 2 or 3-month period. The results from these tests will help your doctor determine whether your diabetes is under control or not. By reaching you A1C targets you will go a long way in protecting your eyes, feet, nerves and heart.

2.  Control your blood sugar levels

This is usually achieved through healthy eating habits, regular exercise and insulin/medication if required. If undergoing dialysis or after a kidney transplant, the insulin dosage generally needs to be adjusted.

3.  Protect yourself against hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar carries its own set of risks and this is amplified while on dialysis especially if you suffer from nausea or loss of appetite.

4.  Get tested for cardiac disease

Because cardiac problemsare common among people suffering from diabetes it is important to have yourself tested regularly.

5.  Maintain a healthy diet

People who are undergoing dialysis have specific dietary needs. A dietician will be able to assist you with this.

6.  Get tested for anemia

Anemia is fairly common among people on dialysis. Iron supplements and an ESA (erythropoiesis-stimulating agent) will be issued to you if your red blood cell count is considered to be too low.

7.  Use a glucometer

You will need to check your blood glucose levels up to a few times a day and it is easier if you can do it yourself at home.

Is a kidney transplant an option for someone with diabetes?

Yes it is. If you receive a new kidney/s you might, however, require an increased dose of hypoglycemic pills or insulin because:

  • Your appetite will return and you will be eating more
  • A new, healthy kidney will do a better job at breaking down insulin than a sick one
  • Anti-rejection medication may react badly with your insulin

What about kidney-pancreas transplants?

If you are suffering from type 1 diabetes a pancreas transplant may also be possible and might be done at the same time as the kidney transplant or soon afterward. If a pancreas transplant is successful the need for insulin use may be eliminated completely.

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