Frequently Asked Dialysis Questions
Q: How does the dialysis process work?
The best way to understand dialysis is to see it. If you would like to tour one of our dialysis centers, call us toll free at (855) 361-5740.
Q: Is dialysis a cure?
Dialysis is not a cure. It is a replacement therapy. The dialysis will do the job your kidneys once did. Your kidneys are more than likely still working just not at a high enough level to get rid of the waste and fluid in your body.
Q: Does dialysis hurt?
No. The dialysis process does not hurt. Sometimes people develop symptoms of upset stomach, vomiting, cramping or feeling sweaty. Report these symptoms to your nurse right away.
Q: Can you still travel after starting dialysis?
If you choose to do dialysis at home, you can take your machine and supplies with you. You also could have the supplies delivered to your destination. If you are considering in-center hemodialysis, Centracare Kidney Program has a nurse who can schedule your treatments at a dialysis center near your destination.
Q: If you are visiting Central Minnesota, can you receive dialysis treatment at one of our centers?
If you need dialysis and are traveling to Central Minnesota, we would be happy to provide you with treatment, depending on chair availability. For more information, call us toll free at (855) 361-5740.
Q: How will you pay for dialysis treatment?
We know medical bills can be stressful for families. We want this process to be as easy for you as possible. CentraCare Kidney Program has social workers who will help you manage payment through your insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare.
Q: How do you get to and from treatments if you choose in-center dialysis?
Getting to and from dialysis treatments can be challenging. Centracare Kidney Program has social workers on staff to help you find transportation options.
Q: What should you bring to your in-center dialysis appointment?
On the days you have dialysis, you will be sitting in a dialysis chair for about four hours. Bring something comfortable to wear. You may feel cold during the treatment so you may want to wear a sweatshirt or sweater, warm socks, a hat or gloves to help you keep warm. You may bring a blanket as well. If you have a graft or fistula in your arm, be sure your sleeves are loose enough to roll up. If you have a catheter, be sure to wear a shirt that opens in the front. Our dialysis centers have televisions. You may want to bring your own earphones so you can hear the sound. If not, we will provide one for you. Our centers also have internet access, so you may want to bring your laptop. All the items you bring should fit in the duffle bag that we provide to you.
Q: What can you do during dialysis?
Reading, watching television, listening to music, paying bills, making your grocery list, catching up on work and sleeping are just a few of the things you can do during dialysis. You also can visit with the other people dialyzing around you. Many people on dialysis enjoy going to a dialysis center for treatment because it gives them a time to create friendships with other people who are going through the same things they are. We want to ensure you are as comfortable as possible during your stay. Let us know if you would like a drink, blanket, video or anything else during your appointment. We would be happy to assist you!
Q: What can your friends and family do during dialysis?
If someone brings you to dialysis, they are welcome to stay for your treatment, if desired. They can visit with you, read books, watch TV or work on his or her laptop.
Q: What will your first visit be like?
When you enter our dialysis center for the first time, a receptionist will great you and introduce you to the members of your dialysis team. Your team will consist of nephrologists, nurses, patient care technicians, registered dietitians, social workers and dedicated biomedical staff who specialize in treating dialysis patients. On your first visit, and monthly, you will fill out any necessary paperwork and insurance forms, so please bring your insurance card and driver’s license. Bring along any questions you may have about the forms you are completing, the dialysis facility, your health care team and the dialysis process. Once you are done filling out the paperwork, you will sit in a waiting room until your dialysis nurse or technician calls you back to begin your dialysis treatment.
Q: What happens next?
Next, a dialysis nurse or technician will weigh you and show you how to wash your dialysis access. Once you know how to do it, you will do this step yourself at future appointments. When your access is clean, we will escort you to the treatment chair assigned to you. Every chair is cleaned thoroughly before each new patient sits down. When you get to your chair, we will take a standing and seated blood pressure, listen to your lungs, take your temperature and check your heart rate. If you have any concerns, please share them with us. Let us know about any pain you may be experiencing. Then, you will have a few minutes to get settled in your chair. Each chair reclines and has a tray on the side where you can set your belongs within easy reach.
Q: What happens once dialysis treatment begins?
Once you are in your chair, your technician or nurse will wipe your dialysis access with a solution to kill any germs. Then, we will use two needles to connect you to the dialysis machine. An arterial needle will take your blood through the dialyzer or artificial kidney, while a venous needle will return your blood to your body. If needle sticks bother you, ask for numbing medicine to be put on your access arm. Most people get used to the needles and are not bothered by them after a while. If you have a catheter, the dialysis tubing will connect to your catheter.
Once you are connected to the dialysis machine, your technician or nurse will start the dialysis treatment. The machine will move your blood through the dialyzer or artificial kidney, cleaning it and then returning it to your body. If you are doing treatment during the day, the process takes about four hours. If you are doing in-center nocturnal hemodialysis, you will dialyze for about eight hours while you sleep.
Q: What happens during dialysis treatment?
During a four-hour dialysis treatment, your blood will go through the dialyzer 15 to 20 times. Only about 1-1/2 cups of your blood will be outside of your body at any time. You should not feel pain or discomfort during dialysis treatment. If you feel dizzy or experience cramping, let a member of your health care team know right away. Dizziness, nausea and muscle cramps are side effects of low blood pressure, which may happen if you reach your ideal body weight and fluid is still being removed, or if fluid is removed too quickly. Your dialysis dietitian will advise you on how much fluid to drink each day. He or she also will remind you of foods that count as fluid. It is important to stick to your daily fluid limits to avoid gaining too much fluid weight between treatments. Trying to remove too much fluid can contribute to low blood pressure and cramping during dialysis.
Q: Why are there alarms during dialysis?
You may notice during your first few treatments the sound of alarms that go off from time to time. The dialysis machine monitors the pressures created by your blood inside the blood tubing and dialyzer. It also monitors your blood pressure, blood flow, treatment time and the mixture and temperature of the dialysate, the solution inside the dialyzer that draws toxins out of your blood. If any of these measurements go out of range or when the treatment is finished, the machine alarms to alert your nurse or technician.
Q: What happens when dialysis treatment is over?
When your treatment is finished, the staff will use a saline to rinse the blood in the tubing and dialyzer back into your body. Your technician will then shut off the dialysis machine, take out the needles and disconnect you from the machine. You or the technician will apply pressure to your access site to prevent bleeding and apply dressings on each needle insertion site. Before you leave, your nurse will take your blood pressure both sitting and standing and weigh you one last time. This post-treatment weight will be used at the next treatment to determine how much fluid to remove. After that, you are free to go. If any unexpected bleeding occurs, put pressure on the site and tell your dialysis facility or nephrologist right away.
Q: How will you feel after dialysis?
Some people say they have more energy and feel better after dialysis. Waste products that build up in your body can make you feel weak and tired. After the waste products are removed, you may have more energy and your appetite may increase.
Q: Can you drive after your treatments?
For the first week or two we recommend you do not drive home after your treatments. It is a good idea to let someone drive you home. Some people feel weak and tired right after dialysis. Until you know how your body will react, plan on someone else driving for you.
1406 Sixth Ave. N.
St. Cloud, MN 56303