Consult with your physician and/or other health care professionals about the various dialysis options that will best suit your needs.

Conventional Hemodialysis

You can go to an outpatient renal dialysis unit three times a week for a treatment. Treatments can take three to four hours, depending on your needs. If your assigned day and shift are inconvenient, ask if another is available.

During dialysis:

  • A heart monitor will check your vital signs frequently
  • Saline is often used during treatment. Sometimes heparin or citrate will be used
  • Ice chips are available upon request. You may not eat in the dialysis room
  • Tell the staff how you feel during your treatment so the nurse or technician can help you be more comfortable

Common symptoms during dialysis:

  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness if blood pressure goes down
  • Feeling cold
  • Muscle cramps may occur as fluid and waste products are removed
  • Nausea or sick stomach, especially for those new to dialysis

Each person reacts differently after dialysis. Some feel better as the waste products are taken out of the body. Others are tired and washed out. You may want to take a nap, which is normal.

Home Hemodialysis

Dialysis machines can be used at home. Training for each of the following options is about three to eight weeks and requires a partner for assistance:

  • Conventional: The same treatment used at a dialysis center. Dialysis is three times a week for three to four hours
  • Short daily: Treatment is five to seven times a week. Each treatment takes about two hours
  • Nocturnal: Treatment is three or more nights a week at home. Each treatment is six to eight hours while you sleep

Symptoms, reactions and requirements may be similar to conventional hemodialysis. Consult with your health care provider about details regarding your particular course of treatment. Learn more about home dialysis therapies.

Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)

This is an alternative to conventional or home hemodialysis. A small length of plastic tubing called a catheter is placed in your abdominal cavity (peritoneum) during surgery. The tissues of your abdominal cavity act as the "dialyzer" or filter. A dialysis solution, which contains a sugar called dextrose, is put into your abdominal cavity. This solution pulls waste products and excess fluid from your blood. The waste and excess fluid then leave your body when the solution is drained.

This process of filling and draining the abdominal cavity is called an exchange and takes about 30-40 minutes. The period that the solution is in your body is called the dwell time. The schedule often calls for four exchanges each day, with dwell times of four to six hours.

There are two types of peritoneal dialysis:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) does not need a machine. Gravity is used to fill and empty your abdomen and four to five exchanges are done a day. The exchange can be done at home, at work or while traveling
  • Continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) needs a machine to fill and drain your abdomen. Therefore, three to five exchanges are done while you sleep with one exchange during the day
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