The Best 10 Tips For Living With Dialysis

Kidney disease is a common illness that affects many people around the world. That fact makes it so the research field is constantly taking huge strides into finding better solutions in order to give patients a better quality of life and to reduce the risks of kidney failure more every day. Living with dialysis doesn’t have to be a reason for your normal daily functions to come to an abrupt halt, as a matter of fact, many people undergoing dialysis are able to carry on living a very fulfilling life and make the most out of their time with dealing with their treatment. Today in Joe Cosgrove’s Blog, we want to take a look at some tips to help you make dialysis as bearable of possible and so you can look at it with different eyes.

Educate yourself

Learning about kidney failure and the process of dialysis is your first line of defense against the condition and one of the most intelligent steps you can take in order to regain control of your life. Educating yourself will help you understand what your body is going through and help you feel empowered. Learn about your medicines and what they do to you exactly; don’t settle for calling it “the red pill and the white pill”. Instead be accurate, inquisitive and always talk to your healthcare provider about your progress and the way you are feeling.

Learn about nutrition

Your dietary needs will be different when you are undergoing dialysis, that is why you must learn about which food groups you have to stay away from, which types of food are encouraged for you to consume and in which quantities. Learning about nutrition can help you find a replacement for those foods that you do not like to eat but sometimes you must, and also to find a way so you don’t have to give up the foods that make you happy. Nutrition is more about balance and moderation and prohibitions.


Moderate exercise does wonder for your body and can greatly improve other aspects of your physical and mental health. Talk to your doctor in order to map out your exercise regime and make sure that you are not overdoing it. A mix of cardio, endurance and strength training can help you reduce stress and aid your body to recover faster and better assimilate the strain placed upon it by dialysis.

Know that you can still travel

New equipment and how easy it is to find local facilities where you can receive your treatment are making it even easier for patients to travel while on dialysis. Most restrictions people feel they have while they are being treated are self-placed on themselves, so do not think that you have to forgo traveling and doing the things you love because of your condition.

Do not stop working

Think about other alternatives first before you quit your job and stay home. Perhaps you can still work from a distance or in a different schedule that allows for your treatment not to disrupt your work. People who continue working are less likely to become depressed and thus created a greater strain on their bodies by their treatment.

Never miss any appointments

Your appointments with your physician are extremely important and shouldn’t be missed under any circumstances. Remember you are a team and your communication is crucial in order to map out your best road to recovery and make important decisions about your treatment and your options. Always ask questions no matter how simple they may seem to you.

young african nurse comforting female patient

Image courtesy of James Palinsad at

Take care of your health

Your body may become a bit weaker and your immune system will feel the effects of dialysis. For this reason, it is extremely important to take care of your health, because something as small as a flue or a cold can get complicated if left untreated. The less stress your body has to deal with, the easier it will be for it to recover from your dialysis and to take advantage of the treatment.

Your mental health is also important

This isn’t just about your body; your mind plays an important part in your road to recovery. Many people become depressed when they are in dialysis and most of those worries are actually exaggerated. Always have someone to talk to about your concerns and do things that make you feel like you are in charge of the treatment and not the other way around.

Find something to do with your time on dialysis

Dialysis sessions are sometimes long and boring. That time is perfect for you to read a book or to engage in a hobby that makes you feel productive and occupied. Find something that you can do with your time that doesn’t require much effort and that allows your mind to stay busy.

Sleep well

Getting a good night of sleep is the best thing you can do to help your body recover and to minimize the impact and pressure that dialysis places upon it.


Great Alternatives to Perform Dialysis at Home

Since the 1960’s home dialysis has been an alternative for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Joe Cosgrove knows that both home hemodialysis (HHD) and Peritoneal dialysis (PD) have been available for decades to those who barely had the chance to go to the hospital because of their condition. However, the usage of home dialysis only became popular during recent years.

At first, home dialysis was quite uncomfortable for both patients and healthcare providers. It was an exhausting and expensive procedure that would need patients to use huge machines. Nowadays, technology has made it possible for ESRD patients to have access to home dialysis comfortably. This way, patients get the chance to have a better lifestyle while being treated.


Image courtesy of Julie at

Home Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is the most popular dialysis treatment that can take place at home. It is easy to handle and most patients who choose this type of procedure are able to take care of it on their own. People on Peritoneal dialysis are able to use the peritoneal membrane (which covers the intestine and other organs) in the abdominal cavity to filter any type of wastes from the blood.

This dialysis solution needs the patient to get a catheter installed in the abdominal cavity. This way they catheter will stay in the abdomen for several hours while toxins and fluids are filtered from the blood vessels through the peritoneal membrane and into a special solution called dialysate.

The reason why this procedure can be performed at home is that the dwell time is programmed and easy to handle. Once the patient got the waste filtered through the membrane and diluted in the dialysate, it will be drained out of the body and a new dose of dialysate will be introduced in the abdominal cavity so the cleaning process can start all over again.

This exchange process can be done with the assistance of a machine or manually. When the process is done manually by the patient at home, all the fluid held in the abdominal cavity will need to be removed before the new solution is injected. The patient will drain the solution thanks to the gravity force, placing the empty bag to receive the fluid onto the ground. Usually, the average amount of fluid that the patient will drain at home can reach the two liters and it can be drained within 10 to 20 minutes.

The most common peritoneal dialysis machine is called a cycler and it performs the exchange process automatically. Most patients at home choose to have this machine because it makes the dialysis process easier and faster, leaving enough free time to have a regular life. An ESRD patient will plug the catheter to the machine during the evening and the machine will work during its sleep, performing at least three exchanges.

Some patients choose to carry some dialysate in the abdominal cavity during the day and drain it out at night, once they are connected to the machine. Also, some patients need to perform one exchange during the day.

One of the most amazing things about this type of home dialysis is that the nurse and the doctor will need to teach the patient and its family how to use the machine and how to perform the dialysis manually. After three weeks, the patient will be able to take care of its condition on its own.

Related: 4 things you need to do to cope with dialysis

The Merck Home Manual of Medical Information - Dialysis

Image courtesy of Amber Case at

Home Hemodialysis

This type of home dialysis has been the least common. Nevertheless, there are two types of hemodialysis available for patients who want to have it performed at home. The first type is called short daily home hemodialysis and the second type is known as conventional home hemodialysis.

The conventional type of home hemodialysis usually takes place three times per week and each session takes at least 3 hours. The procedure takes places regularly, just as it does at a dialysis center. Patients who choose to have this type of home dialysis, tend to spend the dialysis time watching television, on the computer or chatting on the phone.

The other type of home hemodialysis, known as short daily home hemodialysis, need to take place at least six times every week. Each session will take just a few hours depending on the patient’s weight, health condition, lab results and other factors. Since the blood gets to be cleaned every day, patients have the chance to have a freer fluid intake and side effects such as cramps, migraine, waves of nausea and low blood pressure are controlled since they are not likely to appear.

Unlike peritoneal dialysis, home hemodialysis cannot be done manually. This means that the patient will always need to be assisted by a machine in its house. Also, for safety reasons, a partner will need to be present during the entire session so the patient can get some help. Both the patient and its partner will need to be trained on how to handle and clean the machine. The training process can take up to six weeks to be completed.

4 things you need to do to cope with dialysis

Dialysis is a two-way street for those who have been diagnosed with kidney related diseases or complications.  On one direction of the street, you have the hope of living, but the other side is filled with the uncertainty of how a lifetime of treatment will be like and just how much of a toll the side effects of dialysis will affect one’s body.  This latter aspect of dialysis can lead many to a state of depression and be wanting to not deal with constant treatment and everything it implies.  Life-saving procedures come with a change in lifestyle that is often rather drastic; knowing how to deal with life after dialysis is sure to help any patient assume the change of lifestyle and routines with much more tranquility.  Joe Cosgrove has vast experience in dialysis and understands just how daunting a challenge going through it can be.   Here are some ways to cope with dialysis.


Image courtesy of Matus Laslofi at

1. Talk about the elephant in the room

Patients who are undergoing dialysis, or any treatment, usually don’t like to talk about what they are going through.  Talking about treatment can be uncomfortable and for some, it can even be embarrassing.  The fear of being excluded or being treated with pity can also justify our decision to not be as vocal about treatment as we would like to be.  The truth of the matter is that your support group needs to know what you think and what you expect from them going into and throughout treatment.  You must feel as if you had their complete support and they won’t be able to give it to you unless they know what’s going inside your head.  Talking about treatment and what it entails can be awkward at first, but with time you should feel more comfortable talking about it and so will your support group.  An elephant in the room is only uncomfortable if you refuse to acknowledge it.

2.   Do some research and ask questions

Unless you are a nephrologist, you will be going through dialysis with a lot of questions, fear, and anxiety.  This is completely normal but totally manageable.  If the internet has given the world anything, it’s access to information whenever and however we want it.  You can easily find medical journals or videos that will help you understand a little more regarding what to expect throughout treatment.  However, since some of the medical terminologies can be a little complicated and some information could create more fear, it’s important to jot down any questions or fears you may have regarding what you have investigated and expressed them to your doctor or nurse.  After all, they are experts in the matter and they can guide you through any fears and dispel any myths you may have read about.


Image courtesy of Gratisography at

3.   Don’t let depression set in

Depression is one of the most common results of dialysis and it’s quite understandable.  Having your life change completely and knowing that there are some things you can’t don anymore can lead to depression.  However, this does not mean depression should win.  There are things dialysis patients can and should do to deal with depression before it gets out of hand.  Exercise is a great way to start.  Your doctor can indicate which exercises you can do that won’t go against your treatment as well as the frequency to do them in.  Another thing you can do to fight depression is taking up a hobby that makes you feel entertained and which doesn’t require a lot of physical activity.  Hobbies usually help us focus on the task at hand and not on what we are going through.  In other words, distractions make it harder for depression to set it.  Finally, if you feel depression is going to take over, get some professional help.  Go see a psychologist and get what is ever on your chest off.  Staying quiet about your depression is not an option.

4.   Set up a diet and follow it judiciously

A dialysis dietitian is usually part of treatment.  They are there to help you set up a meal plan that will help you go through the treatment more efficiently and without complications.  They will advise you on what types of foods to consume more and which ones to stay away from.  Following their recommendations is key to coping with dialysis.

Going through dialysis doesn’t mean your world or your life is over.  Many patients lead wonderful lives despite receiving treatment.  Yes, life will change.  You must get used to a new rhythm and lifestyle, but that’s not a bad thing.  You will be eating healthier; you will be doing more exercise.  And, finally, if you allow yourself the opportunity, you can lead a happy life.  Remember that you have a support group who is willing to help you any way that can.  You are not alone, and that my friend, could be the most important realization when it comes to coping with dialysis.