Side effects of hemodialysis (HD)

Side effects of HD during the session may include:

  • Pain from inserting needles
  • Changes in blood pressure, which can make you feel hot and lightheaded
  • Cramping during and after dialysis
Health Tip   Health Tip
  • Sometimes, a special cream may be applied before coming to dialysis to numb the skin.

After the HD treatment, it is common to feel tired or washed out, and some people need to rest a lot.

Side effects of peritoneal dialysis (PD)

During a PD exchange, a good amount of dialysate fluid is put into the belly. A common side effect is feeling full or having an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach.


Other symptoms or side effects people on PD feel include:

  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble with sleeping

People on dialysis (both HD and PD) have a high risk of infection and will need to watch for signs of infection, which may include fever, chills, irritated skin, and blood or pus around the access sites. Any of these things should immediately be reported to your health care team. It is very important to get any infection under control quickly.

Here is a comparison of HD and PD:


Hemodialysis (HD)

Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)

What are the side effects?

  • Pain from inserting needles
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Cramping
  • Feeling tired and washed out
  • Full belly
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble with sleeping

Research described on this web site was partially funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Award (1109). The statements and views presented here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors or Methodology Committee.