5 Tips to Manage the Side Effects of Dialysis Treatments


What’s on your agenda for the next four hours?

If you’re like most people with four hours of free time to spare, you might go shopping, hang out with friends, work in the yard, or catch up on housekeeping.

But if you need regular dialysis treatments, your four-hour window of free time may be spent hooked up to a dialysis machine that cleans your blood and removes excess fluid and toxins you can’t without working kidneys.

The good news. There are still things you can do while receiving dialysis treatments like sleep, watch a movie, read, or visit with a friend. It’s a critical part of treatment when your kidneys don’t work. And there are side effects of dialysis treatments, but you can learn to manage them, such as:

  • 1. Muscle cramps

    Use a foam roller to knead out knots and adhesions to relieve muscle cramps. Stretching can help, too. Some dialysis patients find a small amount of tonic water or over-the-counter pain medication can help reduce muscle cramps, too.

  • 2. Restless leg syndrome

    You’re trying to fall asleep, or you’re sitting in the car, on a flight, in church...and suddenly your leg twitches violently. That’s restless leg syndrome, and it’s a common side effect of dialysis treatments. There’s more than one cause, so ask your doctor about diagnosis and treatment.

  • 3. Itchy skin

    Without functioning kidneys, it’s all too easy to consume too much phosphorus found in foods. Dialysis can help. But too much phosphorus in your system can lead to dry and itchy skin. Eat Dialysis-Friendly foods, and use soaps that won’t dry out your skin.

  • 4. Upset stomach

    You might experience nausea or vomiting as a side effect of dialysis treatments. Low blood pressure and weight gain from excess fluids are typically the cause. Ask your healthcare provider about ways to manage this

  • 5. Low blood pressure

    It’s the most common side effect of dialysis, affecting one out of four patiences. Low blood pressure, a weak heart, and excessive weight gain from water retention are the primary causes. Limit fluids to no more than 32 ounces per day, and avoid foods high in sodium.

Looking for healthy ways to manage kidney disease? Eating the right foods can make a big difference. Check out these Dialysis-Friendly meals.