Honey Disappoints in Dialysis Infection Test

Dialysis can be a lifesaving treatment if your kidneys are no longer able to remove waste from your blood. In addition to the amount of time it takes to complete a dialysis treatment at home or in a medical clinic, another drawback to the process is the risk of infection, often where the catheter is inserted in the abdomen.

For years, some people thought that applying medical-grade honey to the area around the catheter helped prevent infection and keep harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream. It makes sense to take every possible precaution to prevent infection associated with kidney dialysis. However, in a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers wanted to find out if honey was really helpful in preventing infection for kidney dialysis patients.

Researchers followed 371 people receiving kidney dialysis treatments. In half of the patients, honey was applied to the area around the catheter to prevent infection. The other half of the patients received standard care to prevent infection where the catheter is inserted. After about 17 months, researchers found no significant difference between honey and standard care for preventing infection.

If you are among the 200,000 people who receive daily dialysis treatments, proper hygiene and preventive measures are the best way to avoid an infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You should avoid fresh water like lakes, streams, and rivers that could contain harmful bacteria. And you should keep the catheter site clean with soap and water, antimicrobial solutions, and clean dressings.

Unfortunately, honey doesn't appear to provide any additional protection from bacteria. However, in addition to proper hygiene to protect your catheter site, eating a dialysis-friendly diet low in sodium, phosphorous, and potassium with the right amount of protein can also help you manage kidney disease.