Don’t let the flu get you.
This is my mantra whenever the rainy season sets in. Influenza or the flu is more rampant during this season and being a dialysis patient puts me in a much higher risk of contracting the virus. People with kidney failure have weak immune systems, so therefore we are more susceptible to contagious diseases such as flu.
What is the Flu?
Influenza (the flu) is a virus that attacksthe breathing system—your nose,throat, and lungs. It causes:
- Fever and chills
- Severe muscle aches
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Sore throat
- A dry cough
- A runny or stuffy nose.
Somebody who catches the virus should not ignore the symptoms and take steps to hold it in check. A kidney failure patient catching the virus must consult to his doctor for further medical advice. The point of the matter is that the symptoms of the virus should not be ignored, especially by those who are immuno-compromised.
Tip: Many other severe health problems—like sepsis (blood poisoning)—also start out with “flulike” symptoms. If you feel like you have the flu, you need to see a doctor.
Your Best Defense is a Good Offense
They say that prevention is the best way to counter any disease. True enough. But what if you’re already past the prevention stage? What if you’re at high risk from contracting it? Being on the offensive is the best strategy you could do against the virus. And the best offensive is having yourself immunized. A normal person needs a single dose of Flu Vaccine, while dialysis patients needs to double the dose administered.
Even though the flu is a virus, it can lead to bacterial infections:
- If your teeth or cheekbones ache and your nasal mucus is green or yellow, you may have a sinus infection.
- If you cough up yellow or green mucus, are short of breath, and/or have stabbing chest pain when you breathe, you may have pneumonia.
In either case, you may need antibiotics, and you need to see your doctor. Pneumonia can be very serious. If you have trouble breathing or you can’t keep your fluids in balance, go to the hospital. Let them take care of you for a while until you feel better.
Tip: Keep a list of all drugs you take and their doses, and a copy of your health history. Bring it along if you need to go to the hospital to save time and help ensure that you get the right treatment.
It’s already hard enough for a patient to battle the complications that kidney failure and dialysis brings. Adding other conditions would only worsen a patient’s situation, along with his perspectives and will to fight the battle. So make it habit to note the things and conditions that would greatly affect you as a dialysis patient. And always keep it mind that prevention is still the best way to counter a threat to your health and to keep you fighting the battle.