Tips for Living with Long-Term Dialysis

Whether you want to keep working or retire and travel, you can continue to thrive while you’re on dialysis. In fact, many people live for two to three decades after starting dialysis. But if you want to make that happen, you’ll need to be aware of your long-term dialysis needs and become fanatic about sticking to your treatment regimen.

When you need to start dialysis, which is usually around the time you lose 85-90% of kidney function, the first step is meeting with us at Vein Health Clinics so we can create long-lasting dialysis access. 

Then we continue to work with you to ensure your access stays healthy and open — one of the most important things you’ll need while you’re on dialysis. As part of our ongoing support, we’d like to offer some tips about your long-term dialysis needs and how you can continue to live well while you’re on dialysis.

Tip 1: Choose the type of dialysis that works for you

You have choices to make about the type of dialysis — hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis — and whether you want to be treated in a medical center or at home. Your kidney specialist will explain your options and talk about which one is best for you, but here’s a quick rundown.

Hemodialysis is done through dialysis access we create in your arm by connecting an artery to a vein. This procedure causes the vein to thicken and enlarge, boosting blood flow and making it easier to insert needles for dialysis.

During hemodialysis, blood flows through needles inserted into your dialysis access. Blood goes out of your body and through a machine called the hemodialyzer. The machine removes wastes, cleans your blood, then returns it to your body. You’ll need to use a machine in your nearby medical center or arrange to have a hemodialyzer brought into your home.

Peritoneal dialysis is done at home after we surgically implant a soft, flexible catheter in your abdomen. The catheter stays in place so you can easily perform your own dialysis. Using the catheter, you put cleansing liquid into your abdomen. The fluid stays there for 4-5 hours, pulling waste out of your blood. Then you drain the fluid, and it carries away the wastes.

Another type of peritoneal dialysis, continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis, uses a machine to automatically fill your abdomen, remove the waste, and refill it with fluid -- all while you sleep.

Tip 2: Stick with your dialysis schedule

To prolong your life and maintain the very best health possible, you must strictly follow your dialysis schedule. That’s why it’s essential to choose the type of dialysis you’re most comfortable with and that easily fits your lifestyle.

For example, hemodialysis in a medical center usually takes about four hours and you’ll need to have your treatment three times each week. If you want to keep working and that doesn’t fit your schedule, then you may do better with home dialysis.

Tip 3: Take your meds

Dialysis alone can’t replace all the vital jobs performed by your kidneys. Most patients also take medications to prevent problems like anemia and bone loss. Your meds are vital for long-term living on dialysis. If you have any questions, experience side effects, or can’t afford your medications, talk with us so we can help.

Tip 4: Follow your prescribed diet

Chronic kidney disease, dialysis, and your medications affect the way your body uses vitamins and minerals. As a result, you’ll have a customized diet and nutrition plan to follow, depending on the type of dialysis. You’ll need less of some nutrients, more of others, and you may need to limit your fluid intake. Making sure you get the proper amount of each nutrient is a key part of your long-term dialysis needs. 

If you have any questions about dialysis or you need a procedure to create dialysis access, call one of our offices in Oviedo or Winter Haven, Florida, or use the online scheduler.

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