Are There Side Effects of Dialysis Treatment?

May 10, 2023

It’s possible to experience side effects if you receive dialysis treatment for kidney disease. The severity of those symptoms depends on your health and the type of dialysis.

Side Effects of Hemodialysis

This type of dialysis involves cleaning your blood of toxins and waste by cycling it through an external machine before pumping it back into your body.

If you undergo hemodialysis, you might experience:

  • Muscle cramps: That condition is often caused by fluid or mineral imbalances.
  • Low blood pressure: You may face temporary fluid loss during your procedure.
  • Infection: The use of needles and catheters increases the risk of bacteria entering your bloodstream.
  • Blood clots: Intravenous needles can narrow your blood vessels, causing swelling or clotting in your upper body.
  • Itchiness: Waste products may accumulate in your blood in between treatments, resulting in skin irritation.
  • Anemia: You may not produce enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body if you use hemodialysis.
  • Amyloidosis: Characterized by stiff, painful joints, amyloidosis occurs when proteins are deposited in the tendons and joints.

Side Effects of Peritoneal Dialysis

During peritoneal dialysis, a cleansing fluid, or dialysate, is pumped into your abdomen using your stomach lining as a filter. The dialysate is drained through a catheter into an external bag after the procedure is complete.

Peritoneal dialysis side effects include:

  • Peritonitis: That infection of the inner lining of your stomach can occur if bacteria is introduced during catheter insertion and use.
  • Hernia: A hernia happens when organs or fatty tissue push through a muscle wall. Peritoneal dialysis could result in hernias as catheter insertion can weaken your abdomen walls and the dialysate puts pressure on those muscles.
  • Weight gain: Dialysate contains dextrose, a simple sugar with additional calories that might cause you to gain weight.
  • High blood sugar: Dextrose may increase your blood sugar level, which is problematic if you’re diabetic. The connection between kidney disease and diabetes could cause hyperglycemia.

Other Common Side Effects of Dialysis

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Heart issues caused by fluid or mineral imbalances
  • Bloating
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

How to Address Dialysis Side Effects

Limit fluid intake: Stay hydrated but be conscious of the amount of liquid you ingest before treatment as you may encounter fluid buildup during dialysis.

Eat right: It’s essential to stick to a well-balanced diet because you lose important nutrients during dialysis. Include proteins like chicken, fish and roast beef in your meals, but avoid processed meats like hot dogs. Limit sodium intake as it may make you thirsty and cause you to drink more fluid. Eat high-potassium foods like bananas, potatoes and oranges. Avoid foods that are high in phosphorus, such as seafood, dairy, nuts, seeds and beans.

Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands before touching the catheter and monitor the dialysis access site for signs of infection.

Exercise regularly: Staying active reduces your likelihood of weight gain.

Report side effects: Tell your healthcare team about your symptoms, and seek immediate medical assistance if you experience difficulty breathing, limb pain or swelling, confusion, a loss of consciousness or a fever higher than 101⁰ F.

Dialysis Treatment at Embassy Healthcare

Our Empower Renal program offers comprehensive dialysis treatment to residents. Embassy employs nephrologists and dieticians who work together to ensure positive outcomes during and after treatment. We provide round-the-clock nursing care to support clinical coordination and help you achieve your wellness goals.

Call 216-378-2050 to learn more and schedule a tour online.