Having a kidney disease should not prevent anyone from traveling and enjoying all that the world has to offer. However, it is important to plan well and be aware of the health challenges in your destination.
There are also some helpful tips for making your trips more comfortable and safer:
1. If You Need Dialysis, Plan Where to Have It
If you have peritoneal dialysis, you may be able to bring your machine to your destination. If you need hemodialysis, you need to plan when and where to have it.
Your doctor can help you map out the dates, and your on-site clinic may have partners in other locations. If they don’t, check out the list of approved dialysis centers in your destination. Even skilled nursing facilities have them since some have established dialysis care partnerships.
See to it that you can plan perhaps a month or two before you leave. Sometimes kidney dialysis facilities get filled quickly. Make your reservation and confirm at least a week before you travel.
2. Pack Extra Supplies
Don’t forget to pack your supplies. Don’t use those flimsy plastic bags as they can easily tear and spill their contents inside the luggage. Some things you need may include:
- Dialysis supplies, such as tubing and needles
- A blood pressure cuff and stethoscope
- A glucometer and lancing device
- Insulin, syringes, and test strips if you’re on insulin therapy
- Prescription medications for your condition, as well as a copy of your latest labs
- Ibuprofen or other pain relief medication
- Sunscreen and hats for protection from the sun
- Insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs
3. Complete Your Vaccinations
If you have kidney disease, you are more likely to be taking immunosuppressants. While these drugs prevent your body from damaging the organ further, they are also leaving you with a poor immune system. In other words, you cannot afford to get sick.
Before you travel, be aware of the health challenges in your destination. Most of all, complete your vaccinations. Some will protect you from conditions that can get worse when you have kidney disease. One of these is the vaccine for hepatitis B, which is a common virus in many countries and can cause liver problems.
4. Prepare for Long Flights
If you are flying, plan your seating carefully. Seats near emergency exits are preferred because they have more space should the need to get up arise. Your back will also be better supported by these seats.
Take off your shoes if possible because tight footwear can cause nerve compression and leg swelling. Sit with your feet up as often as you can because this will help keep fluid from settling in your feet. You should also bring a small pillow to support your legs and back.
For maximum comfort, it is recommended that you wear loose comfortable clothing on flights. Bring along an extra shirt or blouse as well should you need to change for hygienic purposes or should you get exposed to strong airplane air-conditioning.
5. Be Careful with Your Diet When You Travel
Since you will be indulging in different places and cuisines, keep your fluid intake at and ideal range during travel. Contrary to popular belief, how much water you can take depends on the stage of your kidney disease. Often, if you’re still in stages 1 and 2, drinking at least three liters is necessary since it can still help prevent the disease from progressing.
Make sure that you stick to dry snacks and lightweight foods such as sandwiches and fruit. These will not put added strain on your kidneys. However, if you want to eat heartier cuisine, try having them with rice or noodles instead of breads and pastas.
6. Ask the Right Questions about Your Destination
If you plan on having an extended trip, remember to ask all your questions. Always seek medical advice first before traveling. Be sure to ask these questions:
- Will this location be appropriate for my condition?
- Is it safe for me to go there even with kidney disease?
- What are the common health issues in the place I plan to visit?
- What preventive vaccines should I have, if any?
- How can I avoid being exposed to those diseases?
- Can you refer me to a local doctor as well as a dialysis facility just in case of an emergency?
7. Plan Your Days Wisely
Keep in mind that you might need to take medications or even go for dialysis while you’re traveling, so you need to plan your days on the road.
Before you travel, look up everything about your destination. Study maps of the place so you can orient yourself later on. Make it a point to go over these things before leaving:
- Your itinerary
- The location of emergency facilities should there be any need
- Where you can find pharmacies and medical supplies if needed
- How to get to your hotel and how you can get back
Traveling with chronic kidney disease is not impossible. With the right medical preparations and a positive attitude, staying healthy and safe during your trips should be easy.