Tips for Patients Recieving Treatment

What is Hemodialysis?

A therapy used to clean the blood when the kidneys do not work properly. It is the removal of toxic products and extra water from the blood by a machine.

The Hemodialysis Process

Steps of Hemodialysis
Before beginning hemodialysis you will need to have a surgical procedure to gain access to the blood vessels. An AV fistula is the best method, it is formed by joining an artery and a vein. Two needles will be placed into the fistula; one to carry blood from the body to the dialysis machine and one to carry blood from the dialysis machine back to the body. Once the blood leaves the body and enters the machine it goes through a dialyzer. The dialyzer acts like a kidney. Inside the dialyzer a solution or liquid called dialysate pulls the waste and toxins from the blood. After the process is complete the filtered blood flows back to the body.

What to Watch for During the Treatment

Some people experience side effects from hemodialysis. You may feel:

  • lightheaded or dizzy
  • difficulty breathing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • cramps or aching

Potential Treatment Complications

Hemodialysis requires commitment.

  • Sessions are 3-5 hours long 3 days a week
  • May interfere with your career or family dynamic
  • Difficult lifestyle changes such as diet
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Blood Vessel Access



Infections are a major cause of death for hemodialysis patients. Watch for signs of infection including pain, redness, swelling, and warmth.

How to Prevent Infection:
Remind healthcare workers to follow these steps when accessing your site
  • hand hygiene- soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • glove use
  • cleaning the access site

How To Function at Maximal Ability:
  • seek proper treatment- check your weight daily, monthly blood testing
  • avoid injury to access site- don't take blood pressures or draw blood in arm with access site, don't sleep on your arm, don't wear tight clothing, don't carry heavy objects with access site arm
  • lifestyle modification- diet, avoid smoking, limit alcohol use


Special Dietary Considerations to Follow:

  • limit fluid intake
  • eat foods low in potassium
  • eat foods low in phosphorus
  • eat foods low in sodium (salt)
  • eat foods high in protein: meat, fish, chicken, pork, eggs
  • avoid alcohol: dehydrates, kidneys wont be able to filter
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I'm going to start dialysis, do I need a special diet?

Beneficial Lifestyle Modification

Did you know smoking is harmful to the kidneys? Smoking raises the risk of protein in the urine, an indicator the kidney is stressed. To prevent further kidney damage quit today!


Berns, J. S. (2016, January). Patient Information: Hemodilysis. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.uptodate.com.husson.idm.oclc.org/contents/hemodialysis-beyond-the-basics?source=search_result&search=hemodialysis patient info&selectedTitle=4~150

Hemodialysis. (2015). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/hemodialysis

Patient Information. (2016, January 29). Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/dialysis/patient/index.html

Pellico, L.H. (2013). Focus on adult health: Medical-surgical nursing. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Hemodialysis. (2014, June). Retrieved April 02, 2016, from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/hemodialysis/Pages/facts.aspx