5 Things to Expect on Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

As you adjust to life on peritoneal dialysis (PD), you may experience changes, from your daily schedule to your energy level.

Here are five things you might experience when starting PD and helpful tips for how to ease into these changes:

1. PD and training

At first, you may feel uneasy about performing PD without in-home supervision from a clinical expert, but know that you will be thoroughly trained at your local dialysis center by your PD nurse to perform all aspects of your care safely before you begin treating at home. Training typically includes how to prevent infections and other potential complications, exit site care, foods to eat for a healthy diet, and fluid control.

2. PD and your daily schedule

Depending on which type of PD you and your kidney doctor (nephrologist) decide on, your daily routine may not be initially affected much at all. If you choose to do continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD), you will perform PD at night while you sleep with the aid of a machine called a cycler. If you choose to do continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), you will manually perform your exchanges during the day. However, because the PD solution is carried in the abdomen most or all of the time with CAPD, many people are able to follow their regular routine while their treatments take place.

3. PD and your home

The amount of supplies for PD can take up some room in your home, particularly if you have a cycler for CCPD. As you learn your schedule of exchanges, you’ll be able to adjust your supply deliveries so that you only have to store a small amount in your home at a time. You can work with your equipment supplier to have your supplies delivered when and where you need them.

4. PD, exercise and work

With PD, you most likely will be able to continue your exercise regimen with your doctor’s approval. Start with gentler exercises such as yoga and bicycling. If you would like to do more high-impact exercises, check with your doctor.

When it comes to work, you may be able to continue working in your current capacity. If you do your exchanges manually, you can often do your daytime exchanges in a clean area at work. If your job is physically demanding, speak with your doctor for help deciding whether your current job will work well with your PD treatments or if there are any adjustments you can discuss with your employer that may help accommodate your condition and PD treatments.

5. PD and your body

Several things can occur to your body when you start PD. Initially, you may experience bloating and abdominal discomfort as you carry fluid in your abdomen throughout the day. These symptoms typically resolve once your body adjusts to carrying this fluid. If you feel uncomfortable, speak with your doctor.

Some people also experience weight gain due to the calories in PD solution. This weight gain can often be minimized with exercise and the help of your dietitian. If you follow a healthy diet and exercise plan, it may be possible to maintain a healthy weight and keep the extra calories in the dialysate from turning into extra pounds. Work with your doctor and dietitian to develop a diet and exercise plan based on your condition.

Most people who begin PD will experience an increase in energy due to the correction of uremia and anemia. However, energy levels can sometimes fall after starting PD due to not getting enough exercise, not properly managing your anemia, or if your remaining kidney function decreases. Many of the conditions that cause low energy levels may be corrected with the help of your care team. Talk to you care team if your energy level seems low.

Your care team will continue to conduct thorough assessments of your treatment records, lab tests and medicines during your monthly clinic visits. This will give your care team a picture of your physical condition and health needs and will also give you the opportunity to discuss any health concerns or questions you might have.

As you continue to adapt to life on PD, you will learn what works best and what will help you succeed. Speak with doctor and care team, and don’t hesitate to call on family and friends for support.

Find a DaVita PD program

Are you interested in finding a PD program near you? Call DaVita Guest Services at 1-800-244-0582 or find a center with a home dialysis program nearest you.

Learn more about PD