If you had sudden (acute) kidney injury, you may need hemodialysis only for a short time until your kidneys recover. If you had reduced kidney function before a sudden injury to your kidneys, the chances of full recovery back to independence from hemodialysis are lessened.

If hemodialysis is started in an emergency, and later it's determined you may need dialysis for the rest of your life, your dialysis team can explain other types of dialysis so that you learn which options can help you reach your goals.

Although in-center, three-times-a-week hemodialysis is more common, some studies suggest that home dialysis is linked to:

  • Better quality of life
  • Increased well-being
  • Reduced symptoms and less cramping, headaches and shortness of breath
  • Improved appetite, sleeping patterns, energy level and ability to concentrate

Your hemodialysis care team monitors your treatment to make sure you're getting the right amount of hemodialysis to remove enough wastes from your blood. Your weight and blood pressure are monitored very closely before, during and after your treatment. About once a month, you'll receive these tests:

  • Blood tests to measure urea reduction ratio (URR) and total urea clearance (Kt/V) to see how well your hemodialysis is removing waste from your body
  • Blood chemistry evaluation and assessment of blood counts
  • Measurements of the flow of blood through your access during hemodialysis

Your care team may adjust your hemodialysis intensity and frequency based, in part, on test results.

Between treatments

Between hemodialysis treatments you can help achieve the best possible results from your hemodialysis by:

  • Eating the right foods. Eating properly can improve your hemodialysis results and your overall health. While you're receiving hemodialysis, you'll need to carefully monitor your intake of fluids, protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus. A dietitian can help you develop an individualized meal plan based on your weight, personal preferences, remaining kidney function and other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Taking your medications as prescribed. Carefully follow the instructions from your health care team.
  • Allowing your team to assist you by discussing your concerns. Your health care team can present options to you and help you deal with any concerns.
Jul. 10, 2013