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Hemodialysis: At Home or at a Dialysis Center

In hemodialysis, blood is pumped out of your body to an artificial kidney machine. The machine filters your body’s wastes, extra salt, and water, and your cleansed blood is returned to your body by tubes that connect you to the machine. Treatments take three to four hours, three days each week. Hemodialysis can take place at a dialysis center or at home.

At a dialysis center, patients sit in a comfortable, heated recliner chair. Each chair has an individual television set and audio books also are available. During treatment, nurses and technicians monitor blood pressure often. Medications are given and lab tests are frequently performed.

Hemodialysis is generally a comfortable treatment. Patients may experience low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, or muscle cramping. The staff can help with those problems. Most dialysis patients feel tired after their treatments, but are able to return to their usual routines by the next day. It is important to continue with prescribed medications, along with following dietary and fluid guidelines even while on dialysis.

Is Hemodialysis Right for You?

You should be aware of the pros and cons of hemodialysis before making your decision. Some factors to consider are:

Dialysis Center Hemodialysis

Advantages

  • Trained professionals provide and monitor your treatment
  • You may participate and do some of the treatment yourself
  • Treatment is usually three times a week, not daily
  • No equipment or supplies at home
  • Regular contact with other patients

Disadvantages

  • You must travel to the dialysis center for treatment
  • You must be connected to a machine or device
  • You must adhere to a schedule provided by the dialysis center
  • Hemodialysis usually requires more diet and fluid restrictions
  • Needles are required
  • Risk of blood-transmitted infections is higher

Home Hemodialysis

Advantages

  • You can do the procedure yourself with the help of a partner
  • You use your own machine
  • No traveling to treatment
  • You can dialysize at convenient hours
  • Medicare reimbursement begins the day you begin training, if eligible for Social Security

Disadvantages

  • A partner is required
  • May cause additional stress if partner is a family member
  • You must be connected to a machine or device
  • Equipment and supplies stored in the home
  • Hemodialysis usually requires more diet and fluid restrictions
  • Needles are required
  • Training takes six to eight weeks