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Patients & Family | Living with Dialysis

Living Well with Dialysis

Dialysis is essential for people with end stage renal disease. Yet, at times, dialysis can bring changes and challenges that are frustrating and upsetting.  Please share your questions and frustrations with a Satellite social worker. As professionals with lots of experience helping patients during this time in their lives, they have helped hundreds of dialysis patients deal with challenges they face as a result of dialysis.

Connecting with Others. You may find it easier to cope with life on dialysis if you get to know other people that have this in common with you. You can do that by meeting people at your Satellite center, joining local CKD patient groups and visiting websites created by and for others on dialysis. Two great websites to visit are the National Kidney Foundation’s People Like Us and the Renal Support Network (RSN).

Side Effects. With both peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, there are occasions when a patient may experience one or more side effects. Some of these include:

  • Low Blood Pressure. Blood pressure (BP) can drop during or after treatment for several reasons: eating before or during dialysis, home medications you have taken, or sometimes because fluid is removed by the machine faster than your body can adjust to the loss. Signs of low BP are dizziness, weakness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, perspiration or cold clammy skin, cramping, feeling of ear fullness or ringing in ears, and even fainting.

    If you are dialyzing in-center and experience any of these symptoms, be sure to tell the nurse or technician. Reclining in your dialysis chair or getting saline can help treat low BP. At home, treat low BP by sitting or lying down with your legs raised up above your heart. If your symptoms do not improve after lying down for a period of time, call your doctor or emergency services.

  • Muscle Cramps. Muscles may tighten up during dialysis. Limiting salt and fluid intake between treatments may help prevent cramping. Refraining from eating during dialysis treatments may help prevent cramps as well. If cramps occur, massaging the area may relieve them.
  • Sex. As difficult as it can be to talk about sexual difficulties, be sure to tell your social worker and/or your doctor about what you are experiencing. He or she can let you know about ways to manage physical changes that may affect your sexuality. Read more. 
  • Driving. Once someone is told he or she has a serious chronic health condition, he or she may become afraid that he or she will lose much of his or her independence, including the ability to drive. However, you can not lose your driving license just because you are a dialysis patient. As long as you are capable of driving safely, you should be able to continue. Just keep in mind that many patients feel very tired after dialysis treatments. If this happens, you may want to make alternative transportation plans.
  • Employment. Many dialysis patients want or need to continue working. Because of the greater schedule flexibility that comes with home dialysis treatments, it is somewhat easier for these patients to continue with formal employment. Read home dialysis work tips.

    However, there are several ways that Satellite Dialysis Centers make it easier for patients to return to work. These include scheduling nocturnal center treatments (while you sleep) and very early morning treatments that allow you dialyze before work hours. Your Satellite social worker can discuss all your options.

For more information, contact

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