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Seven Summertime Tips for People with Kidney Disease

There are certain measures that everyone should take during the sunny and warm summer months. If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you’ll need to take a few additional steps to protect your health in the summertime or when visiting warmer climates.

1. Go outside and get moving.

Sunny summer days are ideal for going outside and exercising. If you have kidney disease, be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine. Your physician can help you create an exercise plan that will support your health. Even if you feel tired at times, easy exercises may help you feel better. Walking and yoga are two activities that put minimal stress on the body. 

2. Balance your fluid intake.

Check with your dietitian or health care team for guidance about your fluid intake and whether it should be adjusted on days that you spend more time outdoors. Be careful of very cold beverages, which can cause stomach cramps. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol or ingesting large amounts of sugar, as these can actually cause your body to lose more fluid. Stay cool by wearing a hat or a wet bandana around your neck to help control your thirst. Consider carrying a small spray bottle filled with lemon water or mouthwash to spray your mouth when you are feeling dry.

3. Help protect your skin from sun exposure.

Apply sunscreen liberally. Unprotected sun exposure can cause skin damage. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Remember to reapply your sunscreen every two hours and also right after swimming or exercising. A water-resistant sunscreen will be less likely to come off if you swim or perspire. You can also protect your skin by covering up with a shirt, wearing a hat or sitting in the shade.

4. Wear sunglasses.

Sunglasses help protect your eyes in the same way that sunscreen helps protects your skin from harmful sun damage. Your sunglasses should block at least 99% of UVB rays and 50% of UVA rays. Wraparound sunglasses and other styles that completely cover the eyes are best.

5. Protect your access if you go swimming.

If you are on dialysis check with your doctor for tips on how to protect your access when you go swimming. If you have a vascular access, it is typically recommended that you cover it with a protective dressing when you swim. For people on peritoneal dialysis (PD), your health care team will show you how to properly clamp your PD catheter shut. The PD catheter should be immobilized to avoid tension on the catheter while swimming. The dressing should be changed as soon as you're done swimming. When going for a swim, do so in the ocean or a chlorinated pool. Avoid bodies of water that aren’t chlorinated, such as ponds, lakes and rivers, which have a greater chance of hosting bacteria that can infect your access.

6. Eat healthy summer foods

Research shows that fruits and vegetables are important for good health, yet most people don’t eat enough. Summer is the perfect time to fill your plate with kidney-friendly foods that are low in phosphorus and potassium. Remember to practice portion control as all fruits and vegetables contain some potassium. Here is a list of fruits and vegetables that can add color and flavor to your kidney diet:

Fruits

Vegetables

Blackberries

Carrots

Blueberries

Cauliflower

Cherries

Cucumber

Grapes

Eggplant

Peaches

Green beans

Plums

Lettuce

Raspberries

Onion

Strawberries

Peppers (sweet and bell)

Watermelon (1 cup per day)

Potatoes (leached)

 

Snow peas

 

Summer squash

 

Radishes

Use these summertime ingredients to make delicious meals found at on our Recipes page. Try the following:

7. Plan your vacation to include dialysis.

When you’re on dialysis you can still enjoy a summer vacation. To accommodate treatments while you’re away, pre-planning is the key to a successful trip. If you do in-center hemodialysis or home hemodialysis (HHD), ask your nurse or social worker how you can schedule treatments at a dialysis center close to where you’ll be staying. People on HHD who dialyze with the NxStage System One®, Baxter HomeChoice™ and Baxter HomeChoice PRO™ machines can take their portable equipment with them and continue HHD while they’re on vacation if they prefer.

People on peritoneal dialysis (PD) typically have an easier time traveling because their treatments do not require access to a machine, and the necessary supplies are smaller and more portable. Be sure to pack enough supplies to do your PD exchanges when you’re away. You can also work with your supplier to have dialysate delivered to your destination. Start planning at least three months before your trip, and call DaVita Guest Services at 1-800-244-0680 to get assistance in planning your getaway.

By taking a common-sense approach to summer, you can enjoy long, warm days while you support your kidney health.

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