Dialysis will require some adjustments to everyday life. Some of these changes (for example, changes in diet) may happen with either type of dialysis and are described in the Life on Dialysis section. Others are different, depending on the type of dialysis.
Daily Life on In-center Hemodialysis (HD)
Getting to the dialysis center
If you choose in-center HD, you will need reliable transportation to the dialysis center. Some people can drive themselves or take public transportation. Others will need someone to drive them. In some cases, transportation may be arranged for you.
Travel out of town
Travel for people on in-center HD is possible, with some advanced planning to schedule dialysis at a center near your destination. It's not always easy for another dialysis center to fit a transient patient in their schedule, and they will need all of your clinical information. Make sure to plan with plenty of time in advance. Your health care team can help you to plan and arrange treatments.
Daily Life on Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
To perform PD, it is very important to have a clean home. Having a clean home helps to prevent infections.
People on PD will need space at home to store PD supplies. PD supplies are delivered in boxes that are similar to the weight and size of boxes that contain printer paper. These can be heavy and take up space.
PD can be done at any travel destination if you have a clean environment (for example, a hotel room) and the appropriate supplies. People on PD should talk first to their health care team and let them know that they are traveling. Your health care team can help determine how many supplies you will need and organize shipment to your travel destination.
Here is a comparison of in-center HD and PD:
In-center Hemodialysis (HD)
Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
How does it change everyday life?
This website was developed by patients, family members, and professionals who are committed to empowering people just like you facing the decision of what type of dialysis to start. We are a group of people with a wide range of backgrounds. Some of us are patients, just like you, and some of us are social workers, researchers, and doctors representing Arbor Research Collaborative for Health; the University of Michigan; and Greenfield Health Systems, a division of the Henry Ford Health System.
As a team, we have gathered information from over 180 people who are currently living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or who are on hemodialysis (HD) or peritoneal dialysis (PD). The people who took part in our research provided helpful information, like what it feels like to be on dialysis on a daily basis, concerns of being on dialysis, quality of life on dialysis, and things they wish they would have known before starting dialysis.
It is our goal to give you the information you need to make a decision, as well as to share other patients’ experiences, to help you make the choice that’s best for you. Your role in this decision is very important, and we want you to feel comfortable being involved in the decision as much as you want.
Advanced Kidney Disease: A term sometimes used to describe kidney failure.
Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD): Peritoneal dialysis that uses a machine, called a cycler, to fill the belly with dialysate, and then drains dialysate and wastes out of the belly. Catheter (Hemodialysis): A plastic tube that is placed in the neck and is inserted into a large vein to take blood in and out of the body.
Catheter (Hemodialysis): A plastic tube that is placed in the neck and is inserted into a large vein to take blood in and out of the body.
Catheter (Peritoneal Dialysis): A plastic tube that is used to put dialysate fluid into the belly and to take the fluid, along with wastes, out of the body. One end is inserted under the skin into the belly (peritoneum), while the other end sticks out from the skin, usually below the belly button.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): A long-term condition when the kidneys do not work properly.
Conservative Management: Supportive care for advanced chronic kidney disease that includes medications and diet restrictions without dialysis.
Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD): Peritoneal dialysis in which the patient connects to bags of dialysate fluid and uses only gravity, not a machine, to fill the belly (peritoneum) with dialysate fluid, and drain the fluid along with wastes.
Creatinine: A product of muscle metabolism that is normally eliminated by the kidneys. Creatinine levels in the blood are used to estimate kidney function.
Cycler: A machine used during Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) to put dialysate into the belly and drain the fluid, along with wastes, out of the belly.
Dialysate: A fluid used in dialysis to draw fluids and toxins out of the bloodstream and supply electrolytes and other chemicals.
Dialysis: A treatment that can remove waste and excess fluid from the body.
Dialysis Nurse: A trained medical professional who will assist in your care and dialysis treatment.
End-stage renal disease (ESRD): A condition in which the kidneys have stopped working. Also called kidney failure.
Fistula: An access site to the bloodstream used in hemodialysis to take blood out and put it back into the body; usually placed in the arm.
Glomerular Filtration Rate: A test that measures the function of kidneys. This is based on creatinine levels, age, weight, and sex.
Graft: An access site to the bloodstream used in hemodialysis to take blood out and put it back into the body; usually placed in the arm.
Hemodialysis: A type of dialysis that uses a machine to take blood out of the body, filter it, and put it back in; it is usually done at a specialized center.
Home Hemodialysis: Hemodialysis that is done at home, in which the patient provides his/her own treatment.
In-Center HD: Hemodialysis that is done in a specialized clinic, called a dialysis center.
Kidneys: Internal organs that clean the blood and produce urine.
Kidney Disease: A condition when the kidneys do not work properly.
Kidney Failure: A condition in which the kidneys have stopped working. Also called renal failure.
Kidney Transplant: A surgical operation in which a healthy kidney donated by another person is placed into the body of person with kidney failure.
Nephrologist: A doctor who works with people with kidney problems
Patient Care Technician (PCT): A health care worker trained to give care during hemodialysis treatments.
PD Exchange: The process in which sterile fluid called dialysate is put into and removed from the belly.
Peer Mentor: A kidney patient who has been trained to support other patients.
Peritoneal Dialysis (PD): A type of dialysis that uses the membrane that lines the inside of the belly (peritoneum) to purify the blood from wastes; it is usually done at home. There are two types of PD: Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis and Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (see definitions).
Peritoneum: Membrane that lines the inside of the belly.
Renal Failure: A condition in which the kidneys have stopped working. Also called kidney failure.
Social Worker: A trained professional who gives all levels of support, including educational and emotional, to patients before and after beginning dialysis.
Waste Products: Products of metabolism (urea, creatinine, uric acid), that are removed from the body by healthy kidneys.
Are you looking for more information about dialysis? You may want to visit these websites: