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6 Ways Kidney Patients Can Prepare for Winter

If you live where it snows in the winter, you may be familiar with “winterizing” your car. But what about your body? As colder weather arrives, it’s important to have everything in place to stay as healthy as possible. Here are six things kidney patients can do to prepare for winter now.

1. Stay on top of medication management.

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage kidney disease (ESKD) often take several medications. It’s important to keep up with all your medications, from phosphorus binders to medications prescribed for other health conditions. Before colder weather hits, refill medications you’re running low on and discard any that have expired. Make sure to talk to your doctor or nurse if you need any prescriptions renewed before they run out. You may also be able to have your prescriptions mailed to you; check with your local pharmacy or care team.

2. Schedule a checkup with your doctor.

If you haven’t seen your primary care doctor in a while, this may be a good time for a checkup. Make a list of any questions or concerns you have and talk through them with your doctor. DaVita home dialysis patients can also have telehealth appointments through the DaVita Care Connect® app, when deemed appropriate by their nephrologist.   

3. Get a flu shot and any other essential vaccines.

People with kidney disease may be more susceptible to illness if they have a weakened immune system. Getting immunizations is an important part of overall kidney care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination is the best way to protect against influenza and potentially serious complications1. Take action and get your flu shot to stay healthy before the flu hits your area.

Check with your care team to see what other vaccinations you may need, including COVID-19 and pneumonia vaccines.

4. Stock up on moisturizer and lip balm.

Winter weather can be tough on skin. Dialysis patients frequently complain of dry, itchy skin which can become worse during winter. Unscented lotion and lip balms can help to keep skin and lips well moisturized. Make sure to drink an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated, but within your fluid limit. Going over your daily fluid allowance may put you at increased risk for hospitalization. Stay healthy by tracking your fluid intake each day. If you are unsure about your fluid goal, talk to your dialysis dietitian.

5. Stay active with indoor exercises.

Cold weather can make it harder to get outside for a walk or other physical activities. But, there are plenty of ways to exercise and stay active indoors. First, talk to your doctor about what kind of exercises, if any, are best for you. Not only can exercising help you feel better physically, it can also help fend off seasonal depression. Read “Exercise for People with Chronic Kidney Disease” and “Indoor Exercises for People on Dialysis” to learn more.

6. Find some new favorite recipes to warm you up.

DaVita.com has more than 1,100 kidney-friendly recipes, including many comfort foods and hearty soups that will warm you up in the winter. You can also download more than 30 free kidney-friendly cookbooks, including “Hearty Winter Dishes,” “Slow Cooker Recipes,” “Salads and Soups” and more that are perfect for cold winter days.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm