Get That Flu Shot!

I’ve written in another blog about  getting a flu shot.  I also mentioned my pharmacist kindly chatting with me so I wouldn’t be so uncomfortable with yet another puncture.  I was already enduring these at least four, if not six, times a year for blood tests.  I don’t think I mentioned what he chatted about.  He knew about the book and the blog, so we talked about how the flu affects CKD patients.

He told me a few things I didn’t know and I told him a few he didn’t know (could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized I knew some information this intelligent, trustworthy pharmacist didn’t). To his credit, he ended the jab session with a thank you for the new information.  No professional ego problem existed for this man.  I’m lucky that I keep running into such health professionals. Just in case that’s not happening for you right now, I thank The National Kidney Foundation for the following article.

Flu Season and Your Kidneys

By Leslie Spry, MD FACP FASN

Flu season and your kidneysAs flu season approaches, kidney patients need to know what they can do and what they should avoid if they become ill. The first and most important action to take is to get a flu shot. All patients with chronic kidney disease, including those with a kidney transplant should have a flu shot. Transplant patients may not have the nasal mist flu vaccine known as FluMist®. Transplant patients should have the regular injection for their flu vaccine. If you are a new transplant recipient, within the first 6 months, it is advisable to check with your transplant
coordinator to make sure your transplant team allows flu shots in the first 6 months after transplant. ALL other kidney patients should receive a flu vaccination.

If the influenza virus is spreading in your community, there are medications that you can take to protect against influenza if you have not been vaccinated, however the dose of these medications may have to be modified for your level of kidney function. This is also true of antibiotics or any medication that you take for colds, bacterial infections or other viral infections. [Gail here: I have written about this in the book and the blog.  You have to tell the prescribing physician about your CKD and/or remind him of it if (s)he already knows each time a prescription is written for you.] The doses of those medications may have to be modified for your level of kidney function. Even if you are vaccinated, it is still possible to get influenza and pneumonia, but the disease is usually much milder.

You should get plenty of rest and avoid other individuals who are ill, in order to limit the spread of the disease. If you are ill, stay home and rest. You should drink plenty of fluids [me again: remember your limit on fluid intake] to stay well hydrated. You should eat a balanced diet. If you have gastrointestinal illness including nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, you should contact your physician. Immodium® is generally safe to take to control diarrhea. If you become constipated, medications that contain polyethylene glycol, such as Miralax® and Glycolax® are safe to take. You should avoid
laxatives that contain magnesium and phosphates. Gastrointestinal illness can lead to dehydration or may keep you from taking your proper
medication. If you are on a diuretic, it may not be a good idea to keep taking that diuretic if you are unable to keep liquids down or if you are experiencing diarrhea. You should monitor you temperature and blood pressure carefully and report concerns to your physician. Any medication
you take should be reported to your physician.

Medications to avoid include all non-steroidal medications including ibuprofen, Motrin®, Advil®, Aleve®, and naproxen. Acetaminophen
(Tylenol® and others) and aspirin are generally safe to take with kidney disease. Acetaminophen doses should not exceed 4000 milligrams per day [Nobody ever told me that! Why?] If you take any of the over-the-counter medications, you should always drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated. If you take anti-histamines or decongestants, you should avoid those that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Over-the-counter cold remedies that are safe to take for patients with high blood pressure are generally designated “HBP”. Any over-the-counter medication that you take for a cold or flu should be approved by your doctor.

You can find the article at:

Note: There are different guidelines for those on dialysis, which I haven’t included here.

Everything and nothing is happening on the book front.  I’m awaiting dates for an interview on both a nephrologist’s radio show and an online radio show,  and moderating a twitterchat for  The book is still being reviewed by The National Kidney Foundation, The American Kidney Fund and the Southwest Kidney Institute.  Arizona Kidney Disease And Hypertension Centers has decided to place the book on their recommended list (Thank you Tamara Jansen for so actively promoting this decision).  I’vealso noticed some pretty interesting new followers on Twitter (WhatHowEarlyCKD).

On a non-CKD front, tonight is the first night of a four night premiere for “The Final Contract,” a Christian values film I have a supporting role in.  Locals: it’s at the Ultra Star Cinema in the Scottsdale Pavillions.  Doors open for ticket purchase at 6:30.  Tickets are $7.50. Come join those of us meeting for dinner first at YC’s Mongolian Grill – a place in which I don’t expect to have any problems adhering to the renal diet – at 5 beforehand. Dinner costs vary upon your choices.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

Published in: on November 14, 2011 at 11:53 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I just found your blog and plan on reading your book soon. I was born with kidney disease and lost the left one at 11 years old. I’m a Stage 3 (for many years) and 43 years old. Like you, I am determined not to need dialysis, even though it has always been assumed that I would. Please know that the emotions you so aptly describe are not limited to those who are newly diagnosed and we all can find helpful support and validation in your experiences. Thank you for sharing so much.
    I just wanted to share an experience we all may benefit from. I have learned this year that, as well as the flu and other typical vaccines we get, the MMR may be necessary. We checked my Titer and sure enough, I’m not immune. Apparently this is fairly common, as we usually get our last booster in childhood. My Nephrologist has suggested that we check my Titer for Chicken Pox just to be safe.

    • Thank you for the accolades, Laura. I will definitely look into your suggestions and see what other nephrologists have to say about that. Frankly, new information is just what I’m looking for.

      • This was posted on The Barnes and Noble online website:


        Posted November 18, 2011
        Highly Recommend For Recent CKD Diagnosis

        IF you have recently been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease this Book should be your next purchase. Gae Rae shares her personel experiences with the disease, lists of foods which have become part of her diet, how to decipher your medical records, questions to ask your doctors, and what she has learned about living with CKD.

  2. hi, that’s a nice post. i hope you will continue to do this 🙂

    • Thanks. Compliments are always appreciated. And, yes, I will continue until I can’t – say fifty years from now or so.

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