Did you know that around 37 million adults have chronic kidney disease in the United States? If you were recently diagnosed and the doctor wants you to start dialysis treatments in the near future, but you are wondering what the treatment options are and what is dialysis like, we are here to help.

We have put together this guide to share more about what to expect before, during, and after a dialysis session. Read on to learn more.

Preparing for Dialysis

When you are planning on having a dialysis treatment, your doctor is going to give you the best treatment options for your needs. Together, you can choose the treatment that best fits your lifestyle.

Keep in mind that the purpose of dialysis is to remove toxins, waste, and extra fluids from your body. After consecutive treatments, you will start to feel better, and you will notice more energy and improved mobility.

The most common dialysis treatment options include home hemodialysis, home peritoneal dialysis, or in-center dialysis.

Home Hemodialysis

This treatment option is when you are connected to a dialyzer which is an artificial kidney via a needle that is in your access site. You can choose the time that your treatments are performed because this option is in the comfort of your home.

Home hemodialysis (HD) is a great option for those that want to save on transportation costs and travel time.

Home Peritoneal Dialysis

With home peritoneal dialysis (PD) you don’t have to deal with needles and your blood never leaves your body with this treatment. Instead, your own blood is filtered with the lining of your abdomen, which is called the peritoneum.

The bonus with this treatment option is that you can do it from home, while traveling, or even work. When you start peritoneal dialysis early on, it increases your chances of preserving your kidney function.

In-Center Hemodialysis

Opting for this treatment option requires you to go into a physical dialysis center such as The Kidney Institute Houston Texas, 3 times every week for around 3-5 hours each session. During the treatment, they will filter your blood via an artificial kidney. They will perform the treatment with a needle placed in your access site.

During the time you are there, you will have a care team monitoring and supervising the treatment to ensure everything goes smoothly, and you are comfortable.

What Is Dialysis Like?

When you first start your dialysis treatment of choice, it will take you some time to get used to it. Depending on the treatment option you choose, there are different symptoms you can expect.

If you select hemodialysis (either in a center or at home) the most common side effects include fatigue, abdominal cramps, nausea, or low blood pressure. When you first start your treatment, you will feel tired, but over time you won’t feel as fatigued and will begin to feel better.

If your abdominal cramps are too intense, speak to your nurse about it because they might have to make adjustments to your medications, prescriptions, or machine settings. Also, if during your treatment you feel sweaty, faint, warm, or anxious tell your nurse right away because this is a sign of low blood pressure.

For those that pick peritoneal dialysis, the main side effects include weight gain, and feeling overly full. The treatment can cause some fluid retention, which will cause weight gain. Also, the dialysate that is used has sugar, which over time can lead to additional weight gain.

If you feel overly full, this is because your belly gets full of fluid during the treatment. It is best to time your sessions around your meals, so you don’t feel overstuffed and possibly sick or nauseous.

Feeling Your Best While on Dialysis

A great way to help feel like your best self is to eat well and manage all of your fluids. Keep in mind that dialysis works to remove excess fluids and help balance chemicals. This is why you need to be mindful of eating well, managing how many fluids you consume, and limit your sodium.

Also, make sure to protect yourself against any infections. Wash your hands at all times and learn the best way to care for your access point.

It is also important to take all of your prescription medicines exactly as prescribed. Make sure that the pharmacist that fills your prescriptions goes over all the medicines you have to take, and don’t be afraid to double-check with them that all your medications are working together to help you.

Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of building your support network. Make sure you have a strong network made of up care partners, doctors, nurses, family, and friends to encourage you during your treatments.

Anytime you are feeling down or just need someone to talk to, it is perfectly normal and ok to reach out to your support network. This will not only help you feel your best during treatments, but it will also help you recover sooner.

Feeling Like a Dialysis Pro?

Now that we have shared more information about dialysis and what is dialysis like, we hope you are feeling a bit less nervous about your own treatment. Preparing for dialysis can be nerve wrecking, so it is important to have a support group of family and friends to lean on during these times.

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