How to get the best benefit from dialysis

When you suffer from a severe loss of renal function, it is a vital matter to find a way to filter the blood by removing the excess liquid, minerals and wastes that your body doesn’t need. For some people, a kidney transplant is the best option, but sometimes it’s not a possible procedure. Organs may not be available or they simply are not compatible with the patient’s body. In those cases, dialysis is a life support process that replaces this filtering kidney function and helps to maintain the balance. Any doctor will warn you: dialysis is not a cure, and from the moment you start the treatment, you will depend on it until an eventual transplant. Nevertheless, you can get the best benefit from dialysis and live a normal quality life by adopting a positive and healthy lifestyle.

hospital_joe cosgrove_dialysis

Image courtesy of PresidenciaRD at


As it was mentioned in previous posts, diet plays a definitive role when it comes to limit waste buildup in the blood. It is particularly important to be careful about what you drink and what you eat when you are on this treatment. Keep in mind that the process may become useless by not following the medical instructions. Every organism is different. At any Dialysis Centre, a specialist can evaluate your needs and dietary restrictions. Dialysis bring a big change in your life, and yes: it includes the amount of proteins, fluids and sodium you can consume in your diet routines.


According to a study by Oxford University, exercising increases the efficiency of dialysis. After studying eleven patients (aged 32-78 years old) on hemodialysis, they discovered that the plasma concentrations of urea, creatinine and potassium decreased when the patients pedaled on a cycle for 5-20 min. The percentages of the concentrations of the patients that sat on the chair as an average control made them conclude that the exercise in dialysis sessions is equivalent to extending the session time by 15-20 min. Why? Because of the rebound of solutes: it reduces considerably when the blood flow increases on the skeletal muscles.

It has become a common practice in United States, Sweden, Germany and Greece. Exercise during dialysis sessions improves the functional capacity of patients, and the symptoms of fatigue and cramps diminish much more compared to the bodies of sedentary patients. The results show that exercise has even a positive impact on the mental health: the ability of care for themselves, the decreased pain and other discomforts associated with kidney failure increased the quality of life of patients.

However, exercise is not an exclusive activity for In-Centre dialysis sessions. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and still you will get the benefits. There are Kidney Walks and Runs all over the globe, for example, which raise awareness and funds lifesaving programs for educating people on kidney failure and cancer. These events support patients, their families and those at risk, and are the perfect excuse for lacing up your walking shoes and know people who care about your problem.

Healthy Kidney_joe cosgrove_dialysis

Image courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik at

Alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs

The consumption of alcohol, any kind of tobacco and illegal drugs, such as ketamine, genetically modified marihuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, affects the function of glomerular filtration rate in a very negative way, sometimes irreversible. The 10% of kidney failures is related to nephrotoxins contained in those substances. This consumption may lead healthy patients to this condition and it worsens the circumstances of those who are already in treatment. Any drug you put into your organism passes through your kidneys, and every one of them causes a different effect. Alcohol, when it’s taken in high doses, makes the kidneys less able to filter the blood and to keep the right amount of water in your body. Most street drugs change the blood pressure and increase the amount of harmful elements that your kidneys remove in normal conditions.

Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and herbs

Your doctor should not only be aware of your medical history when you are on dialysis. He / she must know what medicines you are taking, in case that some of them seriously harm your kidneys (painkillers and some drugs to treat heart diseases, for instance). It is very important to consult him / her before taking any medication, no matter if it’s a natural pill or herb.

Stay positive

A healthy lifestyle requires constant positive choices: eating well, sleeping well, starting an exercise routine, listening to your doctor and leaving behind those bad habits that bring a lot of people here. Positive thoughts help to reduce stress. Keep your morale up by finding and embracing the right motivations: family, passion for what you do, the pursuit of your own goals… Remember that surviving is 50% attitude!


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