6 Tips And Advice For Managing Kidney Dialysis Side Effects

dialysis system

Beginning kidney dialysis marks a critical phase for individuals dealing with kidney-related health issues. Unfortunately, it brings with it a range of side effects. 

This article provides tips for managing these effects, focusing on practical advice to improve your daily comfort and overall well-being. Adopting these strategies can make a significant difference in your experience with dialysis.

Understanding Kidney Dialysis And Its Effects

Kidney dialysis is a critical treatment for kidney failure, performing vital tasks that weakened kidneys can no longer manage. This includes filtering waste and balancing body fluids. 

There are two primary types: hemodialysis, where a machine filters your blood, and peritoneal dialysis, using your abdomen’s lining for filtration.

While essential for health, dialysis can impact both your physical and emotional well-being. Common side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Itchy skin
  • Sleep issues
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Emotional changes

Understanding these effects is crucial, as it lays the groundwork for adapting to the treatment’s demands on your daily life.

How To Manage Kidney Dialysis Side Effects

Effectively managing the side effects of kidney dialysis involves making informed choices about your diet and lifestyle. These adjustments, while seemingly small, can have a profound impact on your comfort and overall health during treatment.

1. Tailor Your Nutritional Intake

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet, known for its benefits in promoting heart health, can be adapted for those undergoing kidney dialysis. While originally designed to combat hypertension, its focus on balanced, nutritious foods makes it adaptable for dialysis patients. 

The diet emphasizes the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

When adapting the DASH Diet for kidney dialysis, key adjustments are necessary. This includes selecting lower-potassium fruits and vegetables (apples, berries, green beans), moderating whole grains due to their phosphorus content, and being mindful of fluid intake to maintain the right fluid balance. 

These modifications can help manage the risk of hypotension during dialysis sessions. Consulting with a dietitian can help ensure that your diet supports your overall health needs and kidney treatment.

2. Integrate Moderate Exercise

Regular exercise is likewise beneficial in coping with kidney dialysis side effects. It can help alleviate fatigue and muscle weakness and improve overall cardiovascular health. 

Starting with low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or cycling is often recommended. Begin at a comfortable pace and gradually increase intensity, always listening to your body’s signals.

However, consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen. 

They can design a program that suits your health condition and treatment schedule. Consistent, moderate exercise boosts physical health and improves mental well-being, helping combat feelings of depression or anxiety that can accompany long-term medical treatments.

3. Communicate With Healthcare Providers

Maintaining clear and regular communication with your healthcare providers is vital for managing the side effects of kidney dialysis. It ensures your treatment is tailored to your specific needs and any concerns are promptly addressed.

  • Be Open And Honest: Share your experiences and symptoms honestly. This helps your healthcare providers understand your condition better and adjust your treatment accordingly.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask for clarifications about your treatment, medication, or lifestyle recommendations. Understanding your treatment plan is essential to managing it well.
  • Regular Check-ins: Schedule regular appointments and check-ins, not just for medical procedures but also to review and modify your treatment plan as needed.

Engaging actively with your medical team is crucial for the success of your kidney treatment.

Man taking medicaation

4. Adjust Your Lifestyle

Lifestyle adjustments are important in managing kidney dialysis side effects. Consider these three areas:

  • Prioritize Rest: Sufficient rest and sleep are critical, especially as dialysis can be physically draining.
  • Organize Your Schedule: Adapting your daily activities to fit around your treatment sessions can enhance your routine and reduce disruptions.
  • Stay Socially Connected: Maintaining social connections and activities can improve your mental well-being and provide a sense of normalcy.

Making these changes can help you manage the challenges of dialysis with greater ease and comfort.

5. Consider Nocturnal Dialysis

Nocturnal dialysis, an alternative to traditional daytime sessions, can offer significant advantages in managing the side effects of kidney dialysis.

  • Gentler On The Body: Performed overnight while you sleep, nocturnal dialysis is typically longer and slower. This gentler approach can lead to fewer fluctuations in blood pressure and reduce muscle cramps.
  • Improved Phosphate Control: Extended treatment time allows for better control of phosphate levels, potentially reducing the need for phosphate binders.

Consulting with your healthcare provider about the suitability of nocturnal dialysis for your condition is essential. It can be a viable option for those looking to minimize the impact of dialysis on their daily life.

6. Explore Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies can be a valuable addition to your kidney treatment regimen, helping to manage side effects and improve overall wellness.

  • Mind-Body Practices: Practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and enhance your emotional well-being.
  • Physical Therapies: Therapies such as massage or acupuncture may help alleviate physical side effects like muscle cramps and fatigue.

Always discuss any complementary therapies with your healthcare team to ensure they’re safe and appropriate for your specific condition. Incorporating them under professional guidance may provide additional support in managing the challenges of kidney dialysis.

Final Thoughts

Managing kidney dialysis effectively is a significant aspect of your healthcare. It involves adapting to the treatment and to the lifestyle changes that come with it. These adaptations can significantly enhance your daily life and well-being.

Your dedication to managing this kidney treatment reflects your resilience. With each step you take, you move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life, demonstrating that living well with dialysis is achievable.

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Written by Dr. Ganga Sapkota
Updated on December 28, 2023

A graduated medical physician with years of experience in the medical field. Working as a full-time physician in Puspanjali Hospital, Chitwan, Nepal.