May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

One of the major risks involved with dialysis treatments is the risk of infection from the hepatitis virus. It's possible that your blood-access site can become infected and be a point of entry for hepatitis or other viruses.

It's one reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched Hepatitis Awareness Month in May. An estimated 2 million people receive dialysis treatments, some a few times a week, and some daily. If you're on dialysis you have a much greater chance of contracting hepatitis than a person with the condition. In addition, if you were born between 1945 and 1965, the CDC says your risk for one type of hepatitis is five times greater than those not born during this period.

The Know More Hepatitis health education campaign is a good reminder to talk to your doctor about your risk for hepatitis, get tested for the disease, and discuss vaccines available to prevent certain types of hepatitis. It's important because hepatitis can lead to serious health problems like liver damage, liver cancer, even death.

In addition to getting the hepatitis vaccine, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology recommends:

  • Cleaning your blood-access site with soap and water before every dialysis treatment
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after treatments
  • Wearing a mask while you're being hooked to your dialysis machine
  • Getting the flu vaccine
  • Always using new syringes and needles for each treatment
  • Making sure your equipment and treatment area is cleaned and free of bacteria.

When you're on dialysis, you'll also need to follow a strict diet to help manage your condition. It's particularly important to eat high-protein foods, limit sodium, potassium, and phosphorous, and regulate the amount of fluids you drink. But you don't have to reinvent the wheel to healthy eating if you're on dialysis. Check out the Dialysis-Friendly Meals at MagicKitchen.com.