Problems With Kidney Dialysis

Dialysis makes the difference between life and death, but it is not always easy. Regardless of whether the patient chooses hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, problems can arise. It is important to resolve as many of these issues as possible because the patient faces them day after day, quite possibly for years. By making dialysis as manageable as possible, patients are more successful and in better condition for transplant.


Dialysis can be incredibly time-consuming. Scheduling appointments with the dialysis center three times a week and staying there for three to four hours, can eat a hole into anyone’s schedule. Also, additional time needs to be factored in for transportation and feeling washed out the next day. Many patients bring laptops to the dialysis center so that they can try to get as much of their desk work done as possible.


Patients who begin peritoneal dialysis are often stunned when the truck arrives bringing them their first monthly batch of dialysis supplies. Bags of dialysis fluid, transfer sets, surgical masks and other supplies are space intensive. The Royal Cromwell Hospital Renal Unit warns patients that they will need plenty of storage room to stack supplies. A dry garage or similar outbuilding is ideal, or alternatively, part of a spare room. If patients have limited space, they should discuss it with their CAPD nurse.

Body image

Dialysis patients often have body image problems. Patients who elect hemodialysis often try to keep their fistula arm under wraps because they believe their ropey fistula looks disturbing. Patients who elect peritoneal dialysis are often self-conscious with the catheter hanging out of their bellies. Even more distressing is the weight gain that peritoneal dialysis patients have when they fill their bellies with dialysis fluid. Patients often find it helpful to talk to a counselor about these issues.


Depression is a major problem among dialysis patients. Since this issue often has fatal consequences, it is important for medical providers to actively diagnose and treat depression. Writing for the journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, Fredric and Susan Finkelstein observe that depression is generally accepted to be the most common psychological problem encountered in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). According to their research, depression is directly correlated to clinical outcomes. Fortunately, antidepressant medication can work well for patients on dialysis.

About this Author

Shelly Morgan has been writing and editing for over 25 years for various medical and scientific publications. Although she began her professional career in pharmacological research, Morgan turned to patent law when she specialized in prosecuting patents for various medical devices. She recently began writing about renal disease for various non-profits.