WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Hemodialysis is a procedure to remove chemicals, wastes, and extra fluid from your blood. Hemodialysis does the job of your kidneys when they cannot, such as in chronic kidney failure. A machine takes blood from your artery and pumps it through a dialyzer. The dialyzer removes chemicals, waste, and extra fluid from your blood. Once they are removed, clean blood from the dialyzer returns to your body through a vein. You may need hemodialysis for the rest of your life.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- You may have an allergic reaction to the medicines or dialysate to be used. An allergic reaction may cause your skin to get red and itchy, and you may suddenly have trouble breathing. During hemodialysis you may throw up, have a headache or seizure, or feel very tired. Your blood pressure may drop too low or go too high. You may have chest pain, trouble breathing, and your heart may not beat properly. You may get an infection or have bleeding inside your abdomen. You may have muscle cramps or pain in your arms and legs.
- If you do not have hemodialysis, your body will continue to hold excess water and unwanted chemicals and wastes. Your body may swell, starting from your feet. You may have heart problems, chest pain, and trouble breathing. You may have seizures, trouble thinking, go into a coma, or even die.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
Before your hemodialysis:
- Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
- Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
- Blood thinners: This medicine keeps clots from forming in your blood. Blood thinners may be given before, during, and after your procedure. These medicines may first be given in your IV. Later the medicines may be taken by mouth. Blood thinners make it easier to bleed or bruise. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Use a soft toothbrush to keep your gums from bleeding.
During your hemodialysis:
- You are asked to change into a hospital gown. Your caregiver checks if you are ready for the hemodialysis. You are asked to sit back on a comfortable reclining chair. Your caregiver may give you medicine to keep your blood from clotting in the tubes. He then cleans the area over your arteriovenous fistula (AVF) or arteriovenous graft (AVG), and inserts and tapes 2 needles in place. He connects the tubes from the machine to the needles and starts the hemodialysis.
- During hemodialysis you may read, watch TV, or take a nap. Your caregiver checks on you several times during the hemodialysis to make sure you are OK. Your caregiver also checks on the machine several times to make sure it is working fine. Alarms may sound if your blood pressure or pulse change too much, or if the tubing gets loose or kinked. Do not be afraid when the alarms go off. Your caregivers will find the problem, turn off the alarm, and continue your hemodialysis.
After your hemodialysis:
When your hemodialysis is finished, the needles will be removed from your arm. A bandage will be wrapped tightly over it. You may have to wear this bandage for a couple of hours. You may also have to rest for some time until your caregiver sees that you are ready to go.
- Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.