What can I expect after dialysis?

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment for severe chronic kidney failure, but it is not a cure. The only cure for end-stage chronic kidney failure is a kidney transplant. You will need life-long, regular medical care and dialysis treatments for chronic kidney failure. With good care, many people on dialysis live full, active lives. This includes doing many types of work, travel and other activities.

You will have dietary restrictions and recommendations to keep you as healthy as possible. Your doctor will tell you what diet is best for you. A registered dietician will help you understand and stick to your diet while enjoying a wide variety of foods. Common dietary recommendations include:

  • Avoiding foods that are high in phosphorus, which can be harmful to the bones of a person on dialysis. Foods high in phosphorus include dairy products, legumes (such as soybeans), and nuts.
  • Avoiding foods that are high in potassium, such as oranges, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, and dried fruits. Too much potassium can be harmful to the heart of a person on dialysis.
  • Eating a low salt diet. Salt (sodium) causes increased fluid retention and can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Monitoring and possibly restricting fluids
  • You may need to adjust the amount of protein in your diet. 
  • You may need to eat a healthy diet with extra calories if you are underweight.

How will I feel after dialysis?

Your blood pressure may get lower after dialysis. This can lead to nausea, vomiting, and headache. This problem generally goes away after you get used to your dialysis treatments. You may also feel tired after your dialysis session. 

People on dialysis may also experience itchy skin, restless legs, or problems sleeping. Tell your doctor or dialysis team if you have any of these problems. Treatments are available to help you live and sleep comfortably. 

When can I go home?

Patients generally go home right after dialysis treatments, as long as heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs are stable.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments.  Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments.

Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Catheter that is dislodged
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Redness, swelling or pain around your catheter or vascular access
  • Unusual bloating or swelling
  • Unusual color or cloudiness in the used peritoneal dialysis solution
  • Vision problems