Dialysis and Your Body

Starting dialysis means a number of changes to your body. Here are a few things you can expect:

Establishing an Access. Depending on the type of dialysis you and your doctor choose, the first step is to create a safe way to routinely access your blood to perform the dialysis.

Vascular Access for Hemodialysis. To be treated with hemodialysis, you must have a blood access surgically created. This access needs to be large enough for needles to allow blood to flow from your body through the dialyzer and back. There are several types of accesses. The most common are:

  • Fistulas – A fistula is created by connecting a vein and an artery under the skin. Once they are connected, more blood flows through the vein and the vein gets larger. For most patients starting on hemodialysis, fistulas are the preferred vascular access method.
  • Graft – A graft is formed under the skin using a synthetic material to connect an artery and a vein.
  • Subclavian – A subclavian is a soft silastic tube (catheter) inserted into the neck and is quite common in new dialysis patients. In most cases, a subclavian catheter is used for a short amount of time until a more permanent access type, such as a fistula or graft, is created.

Peritoneal Cavity Access for Peritoneal Dialysis. A soft silastic tube (catheter) is surgically placed into the peritoneal cavity through your abdominal wall. This tube is used to flush your peritoneal cavity with dialysate, which removes waste and excessive fluid.

Taking Medications. Dialysis-related medications vary by dialysis treatment type. Because being on dialysis can affect the way medications work, it’s very important that you do not take any over-the-counter medicines without asking your doctor, dietitian or nurse. Read more >

Routine Laboratory Tests. Your health care team monitors the quality of your dialysis treatment as well as your level of nutrition. One of the central ways they do this is through regular blood tests. Each month, a blood sample will be taken and tested at a laboratory. Review a list of common laboratory tests >

Dialysis Patient Nutrition. Dialysis patients who eat well and nutritiously live longer and have fewer complications. Dialysis brings a different very specific set of dietary guidelines, so work with your doctor and dietitian to learn about your specific nutritional needs. Be sure to report any problems (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, lack of appetite) to your doctor, nurse or dietitian. In addition, it may be recommended that you take food supplements or medication to improve your nutrition. Cooking tips >

Blood Pressure Control. Blood pressure control is critical to your success on dialysis. Taking your medications as directed and following your fluid and salt allowances will help control your blood pressure. Read more >

Blood Sugar Control. If you are a diabetic, controlling your blood sugar within a normal range is essential to good health. Your health care team (doctor, nurse and dietitian) will provide you with nutritional information and instructions on proper use of diabetic medications (insulin and oral medications). You must also learn to monitor your blood sugar levels. Using your blood sugar levels as a guide, you can balance nutrition, exercise and medication to control your diabetes. Read more >

Fluid Management. Because your kidneys no longer can balance the fluid in your body, you will need to modify your intake of liquids. The dietitian and nursing staff will assist you in determining how much fluid you should have each day and how you can reach this goal. Effective management of fluids will reduce the stress on your heart, make your dialysis treatments more comfortable and help control your blood pressure.

Exercise: Exercise regularly to help feel your best. Talk to your doctor about the right type of exercise for you and then find a way to exercise at least three times a week. Read more >

For more information, contact Info@SatelliteHealth.com.