Impact on regular routine
Most people on dialysis are able to keep a regular routine except for the time needed for treatments. Dialysis often makes people feel better because it helps clear the waste products that have built up in the blood between treatments. However, some people report feeling tired after dialysis, especially if they have been getting dialysis treatments for a long time.
People receiving dialysis treatments also need to be mindful of what they eat. The specific meal plan recommended for you may vary depending on which type of dialysis you receive. Work with your kidney dietitian to create a meal plan that fits your routine and lifestyle.
Traveling is also a possibility for people on dialysis. Dialysis centers are in every part of the United States and many other countries. The treatment is standardized. You must make an appointment for dialysis treatments at another dialysis center before you go. The staff at your current center may help you make the appointment. Visit the NKF Travel Tips AtoZ page for more information.
Many people on dialysis can go back to work after they have gotten used to dialysis. However, if your job has a lot of physical labor (heavy lifting, digging, etc.), you may need to look for a different type of work. Visit the NKF Working with Kidney Disease AtoZ page for more information.
It will likely take you and your family some time to get used to including dialysis treatments into a new routine.
Dialysis treatments are very expensive. However, most people with kidney failure are eligible for Medicare when they start dialysis. This means the federal government pays 80 percent of all dialysis costs. Private health insurance or state Medicaid programs may also help with the costs. Visit the NKF resource on insurance options for people on dialysis or with a kidney transplant to learn more.
You may have some discomfort as the needles are put into your access site. Over time, people usually get used to being around these needles and equipment. The dialysis treatment itself is painless.
Life expectancy on dialysis varies depending on your other medical conditions, how well you follow your treatment plan, and various other factors. The average life expectancy on dialysis is 5-10 years. However, many patients have lived well on dialysis for 20 or even 30 years. Talk to your healthcare team about how to take care of yourself and stay healthy on dialysis.