What is dry weight?
Dry weight is your weight when your body doesn’t have any excess fluid. Dry weight determines how much fluid your dialysis treatment should remove. If your body has too much fluid, it can lead to health risks such as high blood pressure, swelling, and complicate your dialysis treatment.
Does your dry weight change?
Yes, your dry weight isn’t a constant. In fact, it may change as you begin dialysis treatment. For example, most patients feel better after starting dialysis treatment. If you feel well enough to resume light exercise, you may lose weight. If you then use the same dry weight, you could have too much fluid removed, leading to hypovolemia, or fluid loss.
So, it’s essential to speak with your care providers regularly to ensure your dialysis treatment changes as your health changes.
How is dry weight calculated?
Dry weight refers to your body’s weight without excess fluids. But how do you know if your body has excess fluids? Nephrologists and researchers have studied dry weight to determine the best way to determine patients’ dry weights.
A lack of swelling (edema) in your extremities may be a good indicator of your dry weight. Likewise, a lack of symptoms like dizziness after dialysis treatment indicates that you are at your dry weight. But, the absence of swelling doesn’t guarantee that you are at your dry weight.
Some research suggests that you're at your dry weight when your blood pressure is normal (neither high nor low) without taking medication. This is because if you have too much fluid in your body, it will increase your blood pressure. So, normal blood pressure may indicate dry weight.
Another measurement that has been shown to measure dry weight is the cardiothoracic ratio (CTR). This refers to the width of your heart in comparison to the width of your ribcage, and is measured with an X-ray. A CTR greater than .48 may indicate fluid overload or hypervolemia. A CTR between .42 and .48 may indicate regular fluid levels or dry weight. Together, a normal blood pressure and CTR between .42 and .48 may be the most accurate measure of dry weight.
Clearly, finding your dry weight is a complicated matter. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, your dry weight can change over time. It’s important to communicate with your care team if you notice any negative or uncommon symptoms during, following, or between your dialysis treatments.
What is fluid gain?
Dialysis treatments remove excess fluids to help you stay near your dry weight. However, you naturally gain some weight from fluid between your treatments. This is fluid gain. While some fluid gain is to be expected, too much can lead to additional health risks and complications. Some of the most common side effects of fluid gain include high blood pressure, swelling in your extremities, pulmonary edema, and difficulties with your dialysis treatment.
High blood pressure
The most common side effect of excess fluid gain (hypervolemia) is high blood pressure. Your kidneys are responsible for regulating fluid volumes in your body. But, if your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they can’t do it as effectively.
The fluid your kidneys can't remove remains in your bloodstream. That increases the volume of fluid in your blood and raises your blood pressure.
Swelling in your arms, hands, legs, or feet
Your kidneys can't manage your sodium levels effectively when they don't function properly. This causes your body to retain more fluid, leading to both high blood pressure and swelling. Swelling, or edema, is most likely to occur in your arms, hands, legs, feet, or around your eyes.
When you have too much fluid in your body, it increases your blood pressure and can lead to congestive heart failure. When the heart can’t pump blood to meet your body’s needs, blood backs up in the blood vessels of your lungs like a bottleneck effect.
This pushes fluid into your lungs’ air sacs, creating what’s called pulmonary edema. This can make breathing extremely difficult and is a medical emergency. If you are struggling to breathe, seek medical care immediately.
Difficulties with dialysis treatments
It’s vital to control your fluid gain between dialysis treatments. While dialysis removes fluid from your body, each treatment can only remove so much. Removing too much fluid too rapidly can lead to drastic drops in blood pressure. These drops in blood pressure prevent your blood from carrying nutrients and oxygen to organs like your brain and heart.
Tips for maintaining your fluid intake between dialysis treatments
At this point, the importance of dry weight and its implications for your health are clear. But understanding dry weight and maintaining yours are two different stories. Many new dialysis patients find it challenging to limit their fluid intake. How can you limit your fluid intake while managing your thirst and comfort? Let’s take a look at some common strategies:
Follow a dialysis diet
Dialysis is an effective treatment, but it’s not a replacement for healthy kidneys. As you begin dialysis, you’ll need to ensure that the nutrients you consume aren’t adding toxins to your blood unnecessarily.
A hemodialysis diet typically includes an increase in protein, calcium, and fibers. At the same time, it will limit sodium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Drink kidney-healthy fluids
As a dialysis patient, you’ll need to limit your fluid intake. Additionally, the fluids you drink must be kidney-friendly. The best drinks for kidney health include water and sparkling water, black coffee, unsweetened herbal teas, and some vegetable juices.
Common drinks that will only damage your kidney health include sodas, sugary juices, and alcohol. Consult with your care team to determine what fluids you should avoid.
Finally, make sure you follow your care team’s directions when it comes to limiting your fluid intake. Most dialysis patients are limited to around 32 ounces of fluid a day.
Manage your thirst
Given the challenge of limiting your fluid intake to just a few glasses each day, many new dialysis patients struggle with thirst. Some good ways to satisfy the craving for water without consuming too much liquid include sucking on low-sugar candies or frozen grapes, limiting your salt intake, and using smaller drinkware.
Milwaukee Nephrologists is Southeastern Wisconsin’s Leader in Kidney Health
From dry weight to dietary concerns, Milwaukee Nephrologists are your go-to resource for kidney health. To learn more, check out some of our other educational articles, or get in touch with our staff of nephrologists, transplant specialists, and dietitians to schedule an appointment.
Around 500,000 Americans go to emergency rooms each year because of kidney stone problems, with rough estimates stating one in ten will have one at some point in their life. But while living with lowered kidney function can open you up to a number of health issues that will inevitably restrict your diet, one question you may ask yourself is whether coffee causes kidney stones.
The short answer is no, coffee does not directly cause kidney stones. However, decreased kidney function is often a symptom of other diseases that could, in fact, cause kidney stones such as gout or diabetes.
Here we'll go over more details about kidney stones, their causes, and the effects that various food types may have on them.
What Is a Kidney Stone?
Your kidneys filter out chemicals from your bloodstream and then expel them from the body via urine; and kidney stones are hardened objects composed of these chemicals. However, under the right conditions (dehydration, eating too much salt or sugar, or due to certain diseases) these chemicals can crystallize inside of the kidneys if there isn't enough fluid to dissolve them.
While kidney stones themselves aren't a serious health issue, they can be extremely painful to pass and if the build-up is significant enough, removing them via surgery may be required.
Is Coffee Bad For Kidney Stones?
Current data suggests that no, coffee is not bad for kidney stones. As a matter of fact, recent studies have shown that coffee and caffeine consumption can actually prevent kidney stones. One study, published by the National Kidney Foundation, states:
"Our findings show that going from, for example, one cup a day to 1.5 cups per day, reduces the risk of kidney stones by 40 percent,'” said co-author of the study, Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. “Our findings strongly suggest that regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of kidney stone formation.”
So, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing your daily wake-me-up won't cause kidney stones!
Does Caffeine Cause Kidney Stones?
According to currently available research, no, caffeine does not cause kidney stones. Connections between caffeine and kidney stones are still being observed, however, and it is important to recognize some misconceptions that may lead you to false conclusions.
One such misconception is that coffee causes dehydration. Yes, dehydration can cause kidney stones and yes, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production. But coffee, and caffeine in general, does not actually cause dehydration because the fluids present in a cup of coffee balance out any diuretic effects.
However, drinking too much caffeine is linked to serious health conditions, so drink your coffee in moderation.
What Are the Best Drinks For Your Kidneys?
Staying hydrated is the best way to combat kidney stones and keep your kidneys healthy. Here are a few of the best options:
What Drinks Are Bad For Your Kidneys?
One common misconception that our nephrologists see is that milk is a cause of kidney stones, due to the calcium it contains. As its namesake may lead you to believe, calcium stones are avoidable if you avoid calcium, right? Wrong. Most calcium stones are created from oxalates, which are not found in dairy milk.
Non-dairy milk, however, is not rich in calcium but is usually derived from ingredients that do contain oxalates, such as nuts and other plants. This means non-dairy milk is more likely to cause development of kidney stones than dairy milk.
Avoiding milk, which otherwise has health benefits, because you are worried about kidney stones is not recommended. For more details, read our full post on the topic.
Milwaukee Nephrologists are Leaders in Renal Health
Being health-conscious and informed is the best way to protect your overall kidney health. Read nutrition labels, watch what you eat, and consume harmful foods such as soda and alcohol in moderation, if at all.
However, these recommendations change drastically if you are already affected by a kidney disorder or if you suspect you may have a kidney disorder. For patients that have concerns about their renal health or want to know how to follow a kidney-friendly diet, talk to Milwaukee Nephrologists today!
Here, we’ll explore the sensations of dialysis, tell you what you can expect during your treatment, and share tips for managing the side effects of your treatment.
What Does Dialysis Feel Like?
The dialysis treatment itself does not feel painful. When you first begin, there may be some discomfort depending on whether you’re being treated with hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. These sensations will become less noticeable as you grow accustomed to the treatment.
If you’re on hemodialysis, you’ll be able to feel your blood flowing if you touch near your access point, and you may feel cold during treatment. This can be easily alleviated by wearing warmer clothes or multiple layers of clothing. If you’re on peritoneal dialysis, you may feel bloated due to the dialysate in your abdomen.
Common Uncomfortable Dialysis Sensations
The experience on the whole is generally pain-free, barring a few marginally painful sensations, and any discomfort is usually short-lived. Some of the uncomfortable sensations could be caused by the following:
Needles Sticks for Your Hemodialysis Access Point
If you have a fistula or a graft—the two most common access site types for hemodialysis patients—you may experience some pain during needle insertion. Any pain due to needle insertion is usually brief, and will fade after the needle is inserted. Additionally, you can learn to insert the needle yourself, which you may find more comfortable.
Low Blood Pressure During Hemodialysis
During hemodialysis, your body will experience a rapid loss in fluids. This can lead to low blood pressure, which can leave you nauseated and dizzy. If you begin to feel either of these symptoms, let your care team know. They’ll be able to adjust your treatment.
Due to the rapid removal of fluids during hemodialysis, you may experience muscle cramps during your treatment. This too can be a sign that your treatment needs to be adjusted, so don’t hesitate to alert your care team.
Pressure From Your Catheter
Peritoneal dialysis can also cause some discomfort, but it’s also usually brief. While your catheter is bringing dialysate into your body, it can cause some discomfort by pressing against your abdominal wall. Your care team may be able to alleviate this discomfort slightly or entirely by adjusting your treatment or by giving you a laxative.
How Does a Person Feel After Dialysis?
Following dialysis treatment, most patients will feel significantly better. Dialysis imitates the role of your kidneys, filtering toxins from your blood. While dialysis can’t fully replace your kidneys, it’s an incredibly effective treatment for individuals living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
After you’ve been on dialysis for a long time, such as several years, you may feel fatigued following your treatment. However, this may simply be a symptom of your CKD’s progression, rather than a side effect of your dialysis treatment.
How Does a Person Feel After Dialysis?
To feel your best during and after dialysis, consider the following tips:
1. Follow Your Care Team’s Advice
Your care team will prescribe you dialysis treatments that are right for you and your health. Following that plan precisely will lead to the best health outcomes and physical comfort, while skipping treatments or cutting them short can put your health at risk.
Similarly, do all you can to follow your care team’s dietary advice. As a dialysis patient, it’s vital to follow a diet designed for your treatment. Certain foods and too much liquid can disrupt your treatment’s effectiveness, so follow the guidelines your care team has given you for eating and drinking.
Finally, be sure to continue taking your other medications. Neglecting to do so could make your dialysis treatments less effective and put your health at risk.
2. Speak Up When You Have a Concern
As the patient, you have a uniquely important role on your care team. If something doesn’t feel right or isn’t working for you, let them know. For example, if you’re experiencing discomfort due to your catheter pressing against your abdominal wall, don’t suffer in silence or assume that it’s a normal part of the dialysis treatment. Your care team may be able to provide relief or adjust your treatment to make it more comfortable.
3. Be Informed and Ask Questions
Your care team will prescribe diets and practices suited for your treatment. However, following your diet or managing your fluids can be difficult. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re struggling. Your care team may be able to give you advice for making fluid management easier, or introduce you to resources that help you acclimate to life on dialysis.
Likewise, keep yourself informed about maintaining your health. Learn how to keep your access point and any at-home equipment clean. If your access point or the skin surrounding it gets infected, it could lead to sepsis, which is an extremely dangerous condition.
Milwaukee Nephrologists Are Dialysis Experts
If you’re living with CKD, dialysis can extend your life significantly. But what’s more important is that dialysis can greatly improve your quality of life. However, if your dialysis treatment is painful, your quality of life might not be improving. Dialysis should be a pain-free experience. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it could be a sign that your treatment needs to be adjusted.
Milwaukee Nephrologists' team of nephrologists serve patients at dialysis centers across the greater Milwaukee area and prioritize your comfort during treatment. If your care team has suggested you begin dialysis treatment, our team is here to support your health. Contact Milwaukee Nephrologists today to get in touch with our staff.
Yes, chronic kidney disease can have a hereditary component. If you have a close relative with chronic kidney disease, you may be at a higher risk of developing the condition. However, lifestyle choices, underlying health conditions, and social determinants all affect your overall kidney health.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the main factors that can influence your kidney health, including hereditary traits and lifestyle factors. Finally, we’ll cover some simple tips for maintaining kidney health throughout your life. Let's get right to it!
How Do Genetics Influence Chronic Kidney Disease?
Some diseases are passed down through families. Sickle cell disease is one common example of a genetic disease, and hemophilia was famously passed to Alexei Romanov, the heir to the Russian empire in the early 1900s.
Likewise, certain genetic mutations like Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) can lead to chronic kidney disease being passed from parent to child. In addition, genetic variations in some genes (namely the APOL1 and MYH9 genes) are responsible for kidney-disease related risks. Variants of these genes are also far more common among Black communities in America.
Although, genetic factors to chronic kidney disease are not usually the main determinant.
How Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) Contribute to Chronic Kidney Disease Risk
Genetics do play a role in chronic kidney disease, but in most cases, if you have a family history of chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or hypertension, it may largely be due to social determinants of health (SDoH). SDoH include things like:
We also know that early detection of chronic kidney disease is essential for preserving kidney function. But Black, minority, and rural communities that often lack medical care may not have adequate opportunities for kidney health testing.
SDoHs like where you grow up, the diet you’re fed and can afford, and the availability of healthcare in your community are often things that you don’t have total control over. Despite this, there are numerous individual choices that can also impact the likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.
The Impact of Individual Choices on Chronic Kidney Disease
We’ve now touched on how genetics and social determinants of health can impact your risk for developing chronic kidney disease. The final major contributor to your risk for chronic kidney disease is your lifestyle choices.
Broadly speaking, making wise choices about diet and exercise are some of the most important things you can do to protect your kidneys. This includes doing things like:
Key Takeaway: Chronic Kidney Disease is Usually the Result of Several Factors
While chronic kidney disease has a hereditary component, having a close relative with CKD doesn’t mean you’re certain to have it. Your diet, level of activity, and other factors influence it as well. To keep your kidneys healthy over time, take the time to monitor your overall health and make smart lifestyle choices.
About Milwaukee Nephrologists
Milwaukee Nephrologists is Southeast Wisconsin’s leader in kidney care, with over 15 locations throughout the Milwaukee metro area. Our multidisciplinary team is home to over a dozen specialists, each of whom is board-certified in nephrology. Our transplant specialists, dietitians, and physicians can help craft a personalized care plan for your kidney health.
If you’re concerned about your kidney health or have a family history of chronic kidney disease, our team may be able to help. To schedule a consultation, get in touch today!
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for informational use only. Consult with your physician before making medical decisions.
As kidney stones pass through your ureter and bladder, they can cause a range of symptoms, such as severe pain in the side and back, painful urination, and blood in the urine.
It's important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you may have a kidney stone, as prompt treatment can help to alleviate pain and prevent other health risks. If your kidney stone is left untreated, it could lead to more serious complications like kidney damage or infections.
Treatment for kidney stones varies based on how large they are and where they’re located. Most kidney stones smaller than 5mm can be passed at home with little medical intervention. Here, we’ll explain what that process looks like, and some tips that can help make the process easier on you.
How to Flush a Kidney Stone
Flushing a kidney stone can be painful and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do that could help speed up the process and alleviate painful symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at some of these strategies.