Skipping dialysis has these side effects:
high blood pressure (hypertension)
High blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney failure. If you eat too much salt or drink too much fluid while being treated for kidney failure, your high blood pressure may only get worse — which takes a toll on your remaining kidney function. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
If you drink more fluids than recommended, you may retain enough fluid to cause life-threatening complications, such as heart failure or fluid accumulation and swelling in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart (pericarditis)
Insufficient dialysis can lead to inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, which can interfere with your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of your body.
High potassium levels (hyperkalemia)
The kidneys normally excrete excess potassium from the body. If your kidneys are failing and you eat more potassium than recommended, your potassium level may become higher than normal. In extreme cases, too much potassium can cause your heart to stop.
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You’re the most important member of your health care team — especially when it comes to preventing or correcting problems that can lead to long-term or life-threatening complications.
* Be diligent about dialysis. Whether you receive dialysis at home or in a dialysis center, do so according to your doctor’s directions. Skipping dialysis or not doing dialysis on schedule can lead to complications.
* Take steps to prevent infection. If you’re receiving hemodialysis, keep the access point clean and protect the area from injury. If you’re receiving peritoneal dialysis, wash your hands before you handle the catheter, and clean the catheter with antiseptic every day.
* Follow your meal plan. Eating the right foods can improve your dialysis and your overall health. Be especially careful to monitor your intake of fluids, protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorous.
* Take your medications as prescribed. While you’re receiving dialysis, you’ll likely need to take various medications. Report any side effects to your doctor.
* Report complications. If you suspect complications or develop unusual signs or symptoms, tell your doctor.
Sometimes a kidney transplant ends the need for dialysis. In the meantime, dialysis is a lifesaving treatment. But sometimes the burden of dialysis becomes too great — especially if complications develop or your health deteriorates. Share your wishes about long-term dialysis and end-of-life care with your family and your health care team.