People with end stage renal disease (ESRD) may require dialysis, treatments that replace kidney function by removing wastes and excess fluid from the body. While the life-saving nature of dialysis is undisputed, several myths may contribute to common misconceptions about the burden of being on dialysis. Here are five of those myths and the truths behind them.
FALSE! Fear of needles and the pain associated with needle sticks is common for patients. To ease your fear, medications are available to numb the skin prior to inserting the needle. You can apply a numbing cream over your vascular access (the area that allows your blood to travel to and from the dialysis machine to remove toxins from the body) about one hour before your treatment. Lidocaine, a local anesthetic, may be an option used by your center.
If your access is an arteriovenous (AV) fistula, needles are inserted in the exact same site every treatment, which creates a tunnel similar to a pierced ear. This site is called a buttonhole and once established, needle insertion becomes less painful.
Another way for patients to ease their fear of needles is self-cannulation. Your dialysis care team can teach you how to self-cannulate, which is inserting needles into your own access. Gaining control over the procedure may also make you more comfortable with it. Finally, peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a form of home dialysis that does not use needles. This treatment is explained in more detail below.
FALSE! In 1972, the United States Congress passed legislation to extend Medicare coverage to Americans of any age with ESRD. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established coverage to anyone who:
The social worker at the dialysis center can explain and help you obtain Medicare coverage, assist you with getting secondary insurance or other financial assistance and answer additional questions.
FALSE! In-center hemodialysis is just one of several dialysis treatment options and it too offers a variety of choices, such as in-center self care and in-center nocturnal dialysis. However, an increasing number of patients are choosing to dialyze at home. Listed below are home treatment options and descriptions of how each might suit the different needs and lifestyle of a patient.
DaVita’s Treatment Evaluator can help determine which treatment option may best match your lifestyle. Take the results to your doctor to discuss further when choosing your dialysis treatment.
FALSE! You can still soak up the sun, camp, visit family or travel for work with some advance planning and dialogue between you, your doctor, nurse and social worker. Patients on hemodialysis can arrange treatments at a center at their planned vacation destination. Patients on PD can have supplies directly delivered to wherever they are going. Follow the guidelines of this travel checklist to make traveling on dialysis an easier process. You can also call DaVita Guest Services to help with dialysis plans while traveling at 1-800-244-0680.
FALSE! While there are many things to learn, whatever your treatment choice, there is an entire kidney healthcare team, including nephrologists, nurses, dietitians, social workers, care technicians and others, to support you throughout the dialysis process. Here are some ways they help:
In addition, DaVita.com has a wealth of education articles that cover CKD, ESRD, dialysis, diet and nutrition, diabetes and more.
The best way to deal with ESRD and dialysis is to know the facts. You’ve uncovered the truth behind five common myths that can alleviate stress, help you choose the better treatment option and improve your quality of life.
This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a physician.
Please check with a physician if you need a diagnosis and/or for treatments as well as information regarding your specific condition. If you are experiencing urgent medical conditions, call 9-1-1