For people living with comorbidities, the pandemic has been particularly difficult, because their immune system is already in a compromised state, making them behave extra cautiously while stepping out.
Dr Atul Ingale, director, nephrology, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi, says the vulnerable population needs to be protected, “especially those with Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD) and those on dialysis; they are at higher risk for more severe illness from COVID-19”.
Why are patients with CKD more at risk?
According to Dr Ingale, people with CKD have weaker immune systems, making it harder to fight infections. There are two kinds of CKD patients:
– The ones on dialysis and must-visit hospital or dialysis centers frequently
– The patients who are on medication and can take care at home
“While people on medication can take precautions at home and refrain from socialising, people on dialysis cannot avoid venturing out. It is important these patients continue with their regularly-scheduled dialysis treatments; their risk of contracting and spreading infections increases manifold. Another point is that later the stage of a kidney problem, greater is the threat of contracting COVID-19 and stringent measures need to be taken to keep safe,” advises the doctor.
Caring for people with CKD and on medications at home
Social distancing measures should be always taken. These people should not venture out unless extremely necessary. Wash your hands with soap and water and remain hygienic. These patients must also be extremely careful of their hydration levels and eat the right food. Opt for tele-consultation with doctors to check vitals.
Care to be taken by people on dialysis
* Since dialysis cannot be avoided, patients should wear a double mask while venturing out.
* As a norm, these patients are asked to do the RT-PCR every month, but this can easily turn out to be a false negative.
* In the second wave, most people do not have the classic symptoms of cough, fever, breathlessness etc.. There is a great risk of misdiagnosis. Hence, these patients need to be extra careful.
* Be extra cautious of your health and take measures such as strict social distancing, having a nutritious diet, fluids and extra medical care that you otherwise need.
* Dialysis patients can be carriers, too. Hence, it is important for them to always keep themselves self-isolated, even when not availing the dialysis treatment.
Care to be taken post kidney transplant
People with a kidney transplant need to continue taking anti-rejection medicines (also known as immunosuppressive medicines). These medicines work by keeping the immune system less active, which makes it harder for the individual’s immune system to fight infections. Chances of them getting SARS-COV2 infection are even higher than other CKD patients. It is important to continue immunosuppressives, otherwise kidney recipients may land up with rejections. It is mandatory to wear a mask, wash hands regularly, and maintain good hygiene. Additionally saline gargles would be beneficial, Dr Ingale advises.
Additionally, getting vaccinated is important, and CKD patients must go ahead and take the jab then their turn comes.