It’s a new year and a great time to make sure your health is in order. The following checklist can be taken to your doctor to review your overall well-being. In addition, Dr. Mary Meyer, who has been practicing in the areas of critical care, transplant and nephrology over the past 18 years, also suggests six items that you should pay extra attention to when talking with your doctor.
Good health checklist
Physical health review
- Blood and urine lab work
- Medicine and supplement review
- Flu shot and other vaccines updated
- Exercise review
- Nutrition review
- Dialysis modality review if you’re on dialysis
- Emotional health review
- Check in with your feelings
- See a counselor if necessary
- Stay active by working or volunteering
- Keep moving and doing things that interest you
While all the items on the checklist are important, Dr. Meyer especially recommends the following six topics be addressed with your doctor.
Flu and pneumonia shots check
Flu shots are the best way for everyone to prevent getting the flu, but if you have kidney disease you are encouraged even more to get the vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection suggest that people who have kidney disease and/or diabetes and need regular medical care have a flu shot.
While Pneumovax® shots (a vaccine effective against the 23 most common strains of a bacterium that causes pneumonia) are usually given before flu season in October or November; the beginning of the year is a good time to make sure you are up to date on both shots. If you still haven’t gotten your flu or pneumonia shots, ask your doctor. Flu season can last until May, so you’ll want to be protected.
If you’ve had a kidney transplant recently, you should make sure that your doctor pays special attention to the status of your new kidney. When going in for follow-up checkups, bring your surgery handbook, if you have one, and the list of medicines you are taking.
You should also tell your doctor how your home monitoring has been going. This monitoring should include regular, self-administered checks on weight, temperature and blood pressure. If you notice a dramatic weight gain, you could be retaining fluids. Temperature change can indicate infection. If there is a noticeable change in blood pressure, you should visit your doctor.
If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suggests that you visit your doctor two to four times a year, and if you are on insulin, these visits should occur at least four times so by the time you walk in for your New Year checkup, it should have been only a few months since your last doctor’s visit.
Dr. Meyer advises that you see an endocrinologist (a doctor who is more specialized in treating diabetes) if you aren’t working with your primary care doctor or nephrologist to manage your diabetes.
Dr. Meyer offers a few guidelines about what to look for and discuss with your doctor. Along with checking your glucose (blood sugar) level, blood pressure and weight, your doctor should take blood to check cholesterol, blood fat and glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c). The hemoglobin A1c test will give a measure of your blood glucose level over the past two to three months, probably since your last doctor visit. A urine sample should also be taken to look for protein. Protein in the urine (proteinuria) occurs when the kidneys are damaged. For people with diabetes, this is a sign of diabetic nephropathy—meaning kidney function has declined. This, in time, could lead to kidney failure. In addition to treating diabetes, your endocrinologist will also take steps to help prolong your kidney function and possibly even prevent kidney failure.
The New Year is also the perfect time to go over your medicines with your doctor. You should review what you are taking, how you are feeling and how your body is responding to the medicines based on your lab results. You can help your doctor determine if you’re taking the right medicines, or if there are medicines you no longer need to take. “It’s the perfect time to streamline the drugs you are taking,” Dr. Meyer says.
Activity level check
Even if you are on dialysis, Dr. Meyer recommends you stay active. “A lot of people say that you shouldn’t work if you are on dialysis. I think that’s the wrong advice. The more you get out into the community the better,” says Dr. Meyer. In addition to the social benefits of working, the financial benefits of an income and health insurance can also provide peace of mind.
Exercise can also provide a health benefit. Most people on dialysis can do some form of physical activity. A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation showed that people who exercise while on dialysis may have more effective treatments because exercise can reduce urea (a toxin that accumulates between dialysis sessions) by 20%. Physical activity can help you feel better, stronger and more in control of your health no matter when you do it. Talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activity will be good for you. Even a little bit of exercise can be a big help.
For a person with kidney disease, the everyday dealings with physical health issues can be all consuming. “Everybody is so busy dealing with the physical issues that they forget about the emotional strain,” says Dr. Meyer. But Dr. Meyer believes that it’s a good idea to take the time to check in with your feelings and emotions.
A study by Yale University found that depression is generally accepted to be the most common psychological disorder associated with dialysis. The feelings of sadness and hopelessness associated with depression can take away from one’s quality of life. Depression is an illness that should be treated by a professional in the same way you would treat diabetes or high blood pressure. Dr. Meyer’s advice is to listen to your feelings, and if necessary see a counselor. If you are on dialysis, talk to the social worker in your clinic. The social worker can help determine if you have clinical depression and can assist you with getting more treatment if needed. In addition, social workers are trained to teach stress reduction techniques that can help alleviate emotional strain. Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health.
Make this year the best it can be by taking care of your physical and emotional needs. Use this checklist and follow Dr. Meyer’s advice to help you have a Happy, Healthy New Year.
– Reprinted with permission by DaVita Inc.
– Source from www.DaVita.com