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Dialysis: what it is, care and complications

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Dialysis is a replacement treatment for kidney functions, in which substances that are harmful to the body and that the kidneys can no longer do are eliminated. The dialysis process is carried out in two ways: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis and generally, people who need this process is because they are in a phase of kidney failure . At FastlyHealwe explain in depth what dialysis is, its care and complications .

What is dialysis

Dialysis is a treatment that replaces the function of the kidneys , when they are compromised in their process of cleaning the blood. People who need this procedure is because they have kidney failure and although at first glance it seems simple, the dialysis process can be quite stressful and the side effects generate considerable discomfort for the patient. While dialysis occurs, the nephrologist will have placed the patient on a transplant list , when a compatible kidney appears, it will be the end of dialysis.

Types of dialysis

The function of the kidneys is to eliminate toxins and excess fluids from the blood, since the accumulation of these can be dangerous for our health. When this process cannot be accomplished, it will be necessary to help the kidneys through dialysis. There are two types of dialysis :

  • Peritoneal dialysis : it is responsible for eliminating the remaining fluid, through the peritoneum, a membrane that covers the abdomen. In this case, a catheter is placed in the abdomen and filled with dialysis solution, which contains a type of sugar that will be responsible for removing waste, which will pass through the blood vessels through the peritoneum. To insert the catheter requires surgery , it will be placed near the navel. This treatment can be carried out at home, if you have the necessary material and prior medical authorization, which will give you greater independence.
  • Hemodialysis : in this case the access is created in a blood vessel in the arm, where the blood passes through a filter that is divided into two parts, on the one hand the waste that the body does not need is extracted and on the other the blood returns to the body, already clean. This procedure is carried out in a medical center, three times a week for 3 to 4 hours .

Care after a dialysis session

After a dialysis session, it is normal for the following symptoms to appear:

  • Fatigue.
  • Soft spot.
  • Tremors
  • Changes in blood pressure

The care that must be taken after dialysis and throughout the process will be aimed at avoiding infections in the area where the catheter is located. Some of them are:

  • Personal hygiene will be very important, using neutral soaps to avoid the itchiness of this disease.
  • Keep the catheter hole covered.
  • See your doctor if you see any change in the fistula.
  • If you’re on hemodialysis and your arm feels swollen , hold it up for a while.
  • Avoid straining your arm where you have the fistula.
  • Don’t sleep on the side where the catheter is.

Dialysis complications

The complications of dialysis They are not very frequent, however there are many risks of infections:

  • Peritonitis : since peritoneal dialysis is carried out inside the body, there is a very high risk that the peritoneum will become inflamed, this infection usually responds to treatment with antibiotics.
  • Infection of the fistula : the puncture to create the access in the blood vessel must be done between three and four times a week, so the risk of infection is quite high.
  • Blockage of blood vessels : Continuous puncture can generate thrombi that render the blood vessel unusable for dialysis. Surgery will need to be done to remove the obstruction.
  • Diet : as the kidneys are not capable of carrying out their function, patients with kidney failure must take good care of their diet and the amount of fluid they consume.
  • Arteriosclerosis : people with kidney failure have an accumulation of phosphates in the blood, which causes damage to the blood vessels and disorders such as arteriosclerosis can appear.


Starting a dialysis process produces an important change in lifestyle and routines, so we give you some recommendations to make the treatment more bearable:

  • Do some physical exercise that is not violent or strenuous, such as swimming, gymnastics, cycling or walking. Always taking care of the access that you have placed for dialysis (peritoneal or vascular.
  • Communicate in your workplace the situation so that they can take the necessary measures regarding your schedule.
  • Do not isolate yourself, social relationships will help you make this process more bearable.
  • Avoid tobacco use , this can be a risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Read food labels and choose those that are low in sodium.
  • Monitor your fluid intake .
  • Remove the liquid from the vegetables, sautéing them after they are boiled.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks, as they increase thirst.
  • Changes in the personal, social and work environment are important, so do not hesitate to consult a psychologist if you consider it necessary.
  • Limit your intake of salty foods .

When to contact the doctor

  • If there is bleeding or infection in the vascular or peritoneal access.
  • Fever greater than 38 ºC.
  • If the hand where the catheter is feels cold.
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Itch.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Dialysis: what it is, care and complications , we recommend that you enter our Kidneys and urinary system category .

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