Dialysis helps to replace some of the work that your kidneys used to do, but it is not the same as having working kidneys. This means that you need to take extra steps to stay healthy. It also means that you may be at risk for complications of kidney failure. Some of the most common complications of kidney failure include anemia, bone disease, heart disease, high potassium and fluid buildup. Work with your health care team to prevent and treat these complications.
Your kidneys help your body make red blood cells. When your kidneys are not working properly, your body may not have enough red blood cells. This condition is called anemia (ah-NEE-mee-uh). Learn more.
Bone disease and high phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia)
You need calcium and vitamin D to have healthy bones. Healthy kidneys help keep your bones healthy. If you have CKD, your kidneys may not be able to do this important job. Learn more.
Heart disease can cause kidney disease, but kidney disease can also cause heart disease. Heart disease is the most common cause of death among people on dialysis.
When your kidneys are not working well, they cannot support the other parts of your body as they should. This can cause problems with your heart. Learn more about heart disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
High potassium (hyperkalemia)
Healthy kidneys filter extra potassium (a mineral found in many foods) from the blood. If you have CKD, you need to limit your potassium because your kidneys may not be able to filter it. Learn more.
Healthy kidneys take out extra fluid (liquid) from your blood. When your kidneys are not working as well as they should, they cannot take out enough fluid. This can cause the extra fluid in your blood to build up in your body.
Having too much fluid in your body can cause problems with your heart and lungs. It can also cause high blood pressure, which is the second most common cause of kidney failure. Controlling your fluid intake can help prevent these problems and lower your risk for further kidney damage.
If your body is holding on to too much fluid, you may notice a faster heartbeat and swelling that starts in your feet and ankles and moves upward. Limiting how much fluid you take in can help you feel better.
Use these tips to limit how much fluid you take in each day and check out our infographic on staying hydrated without overdoing fluids:
- Follow a low-salt diet. Salt can make your body hold on to more fluid than it should.
- If you are thirsty, try sucking on an ice cube or a hard candy (sugar-free if you have diabetes).
- Remember that foods, such as ice cream and soup, count as fluid! Fruits and vegetables also have fluid in them. Each time you eat or drink something that is considered a fluid, write it down. Keep track of how much fluid you take in throughout the day.
Ask your doctor how much fluid you should have. Use the tips above to achieve your fluid goal!
Mental health and kidney disease
Many people with kidney disease experience challenges with their mental wellbeing. Learn more about mental health.