Myths About Dialysis: Setting the Record Straight

Every day, millions of people undergo dialysis. This lifesaving treatment uses a specialized machine to filter toxins from the blood – work normally done by healthy kidneys. Although the need for dialysis is undisputed, common misconceptions persist about the burden of being on dialysis, and we’re here to set the record straight.

Myth: The only option for receiving dialysis treatment is to travel to a center at least three times per week for hours at a time.
Fact: There are so many dialysis options. If a patient is hospitalized, they can receive it during hospitalization. Peritoneal dialysis can be done in a unit or the comfort of your home. Patients should talk with their doctors about which type of dialysis they need and their treatment location options.

Myth: Dialysis is painful.
Fact: The dialysis treatment itself is painless. You may feel some discomfort when the needle is put into your fistula or graft, but most patients have no other pain during the process. Some patients may experience side effects, like a drop in blood pressure that can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches or cramps. However, the risk of these types of side effects can be reduced by following kidney-conscious dietary recommendations.

Myth: Dialysis is expensive or unaffordable for the normal patient.
Fact: Many of the costs associated with dialysis are covered by either the federal government, health insurance or state medical aid. The federal government pays 80 percent of all dialysis costs for most patients, which helps keep out-of-pocket costs low.

Myth: Due to time constraints, dialysis patients can't travel.
Fact: There are dialysis centers located in every part of the United States and in many foreign countries that can assist patients who wish to travel. The treatment is standardized, so it can be received anywhere. If you want to travel, talk to your dialysis team about safe travel tips and help with arranging out-of-town treatments.


Cómo cuidar sus riñones

Aunque usted no sea un paciente de diálisis, hay muchas cosas que puede hacer para prevenir una enfermedad renal crónica (ERC). Además de mantener bajo el azúcar en sangre y la presión arterial, tome en cuenta los siguientes consejos y siempre consulte con su doctor.

Reducir el consumo de carnes y lácteos
La carne y los productos lácteos contienen proteína animal, que según las investigaciones pueden tener un efecto negativo en la función renal y ser una carga adicional para los riñones agravando cualquier enfermedad renal existente. 

Mantenerse hidratado
Beba agua. Ingerir líquidos inadecuados, provoca deshidratación que es importante evitar en caso de padecer enfermedades renales.

Hacer ejercicio regularmente
El ejercicio mejora la salud en general, y en particular la salud renal. Además, puede prevenir la presión arterial alta, que también puede afectar la salud de los riñones.  

No consumir sal
Ingerir sal aumenta la cantidad de sodio en el torrente sanguíneo, resultando en retención de líquidos y un aumento de la presión arterial afectando directamente a los riñones y restringiendo su capacidad de eliminar el agua. 

Revisar sus medicamentos
Aunque a veces son esenciales, los medicamentos pueden afectar la función de los riñones. Debido a que los órganos filtran muchos medicamentos, este esfuerzo con el tiempo puede causar un deterioro de la función renal. Hable con su doctor sobre los posibles efectos secundarios de sus medicinas. 

Dejar de fumar
Los fumadores tienen un mayor riesgo de sufrir enfermedades cardíacas, accidentes cerebrovasculares y varios tipos de cáncer. Además, el hábito ralentiza el flujo sanguíneo a órganos importantes como los riñones. Los fumadores también tienen un mayor riesgo de enfermedades renales, especialmente cuando la persona también tiene diabetes. 

Exámenes periódicos
Las medidas preventivas pueden ayudar a detectar enfermedades renales. Las personas con afecciones preexistentes, como presión arterial alta, enfermedades cardíacas o diabetes, deben realizarse chequeos periódicos para su control y la detección de cualquier condición.

10 Tips for Successful At-Home Peritoneal Dialysis

Adjusting to life on dialysis can be challenging and the process of at-home peritoneal dialysis can be difficult at first. At KidneySPA, we offer patients and caregivers training and monthly consultation services to help them get started and guide them toward successful treatments. In addition, we recommend taking these steps to feel better both physically and emotionally during the process.

  • Get training, help, and support. After consulting with your doctor, if you choose at-home peritoneal dialysis you’ll need to be trained to do it on your own. If you’re partnering with a caregiver to help you with treatment, train together and make sure they remain with you during the procedures and can handle the commitment. Talk to your care team about how you can make your at-home sessions better and express your concerns to a healthcare provider, other patients, support group, your family, or a counselor. 

  • Learn and become your own advocate. Learn all aspects of performing at-home dialysis treatments with your medical team and it will eventually become a regular routine you’ll find relatively easy to do. Learning as much as you can about kidney failure, medications, and your body is also key. The more you know, the calmer you will be. Take your blood pressure and weigh yourself so you can be proactive and practice preventive medicine. Work on nutritional health issues with your dietitian and get your family and friends involved. 

  • Get into a routine. Having a routine schedule is always very helpful. Make sure you stay on the machine for the entire treatment. Missing just a few minutes can make dialysis less effective and seriously impact your health. 

  • Find the right space in your home. At-home peritoneal dialysis requires a dry storage space for your equipment. Select the best location for both storage and treatment, and make sure you have enough supplies for an emergency and a plan in case of a power outage. 

  • Stay warm. Some patients might feel cold while they are in session so a nice blanket or a hat can always help. 

  • Keep track of your symptoms. Flu-like symptoms, tiredness, weakness, and chills, are common for people on dialysis. You might also sleep more or be more forgetful due to anemia which can be treated. Be sure to keep your medical team informed about how you are doing. 

  • Take advantage of dialysis time. It’s important to make the most of your at-home dialysis sessions and use your dialysis time in a way that benefits you. Catch up on emails, work on your computer, read a book, watch a movie or your favorite shows, listen to music, or do guided meditation to reduce stress. You could also use the time to talk to your family and friends or make those calls you never have time to make. 

  • Develop good habits. Eat right and drink properly, take your medicines, follow your doctors’ orders, and exercise. In order to feel well and keep your system in balance, it’s important to follow the nutrition plan provided by your dialysis dietitian. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase your strength and endurance, so check with your doctor to find out what type of exercise is safe for you. 

  • Establish a new normal. Try to get back to work and your routine as soon as you feel you can do it. It will make you feel good. You can return to many of your previous activities while on dialysis which will greatly benefit you in the long run. 

  • Stay positive and take one day at a time. Adjusting to kidney failure is easier if you take it one day at a time while focusing on the positive, thinking about how much better you feel after your sessions, and accepting that dialysis helps you and allows you to live your life. Some people live as long on dialysis as people without kidney failure. If you just can’t seem to stay positive, talk to your care team and get the help you need through this trying time.