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Dialysis Options for Patients with Kidney Failure: Pros and Cons

Dialysis is a procedure for those who are dealing with kidney failure. With the kidneys no longer working properly, they don’t filter blood the way they’re supposed to. And because there is no filter, waste and other toxins build up in the bloodstream. Dialysis is used as a filter to remove all the toxins and waste from the blood.

There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD). Which one is best for you depends on your doctor’s recommendations and your overall health.

Hemodialysis (HD)

Hemodialysis uses a machine to move your blood through a filter outside your body. This filter is what removes the waste and then the filtered blood is returned to the body. It can be performed at a clinic or at home.

Before hemodialysis can begin, you’ll need a minor procedure. You’ll either have an arteriovenous fistula (AV fistula) where the surgeon connects an artery and vein to the arm or an arteriovenous graft (AV graft) where your surgeon will use a graft or small tube to connect the artery and the vein. These procedures make it easier to access the bloodstream and perform the dialysis.

During hemodialysis, blood is removed from a needle in your arm and the blood is circulated through the filter and moves the waster into a dialysis solution. The filtered blood is returned to the body through a different needle in the arm. While going through hemodialysis, your blood pressure is monitored so the blood flow can be adjusted as needed.


Some of the pros that come with hemodialysis include:

  • it helps control blood pressure
  • it balances minerals in the body like potassium, sodium, and calcium
  • it can be done in a clinic or at home which means you may not need to travel to a dialysis center for treatment
  • it can be more convenient
  • there are three types of hemodialysis depending on your schedule and needs:
    • standard home hemodialysis: takes place 3 times a week for 3-5 hours
    • short daily hemodialysis: 5-7 days per week for 2-4 hours at a time
    • nightly home hemodialysis: 3-6 times per week while you sleep


Like any procedure, hemodialysis also comes with a few cons as well. They include:

  • someone must be there while you’re on dialysis at home.
  • special electricity and plumbing may be needed if you have it done at home
  • both you and your dialysis partner must take time off work or your regular routine.
  • the dialysis machines can take up space in your home.
  • if you have it at home, there are no medical professionals to immediately answer questions and concerns.
  • in order to prevent treatment problems, patients may need to adhere to a restrictive diet, and fluid intake may need to be limited.
  • there can be side effects including low blood pressure (hypotension), muscle cramps, sleep problems, anemia, and fluid overload.

Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)

With peritoneal dialysis, tiny blood vessels inside the abdominal lining (peritoneum) filter blood with the help of a dialysis solution. The solution contains water, salt, and other additives.

This type of dialysis primarily takes place at home and there are two ways to do the treatment. You can either use an automated peritoneal machine called a cycler which pumps the fluid into the body while you sleep or you can have continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) which is a manual process.

During peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is connected to a tube and that tube is connected to the bag with the dialysis solution. The solution then goes from the tube and catheter into the peritoneal cavity. Once the bag is empty, disconnect the tube and cap off the catheter. You can go about your daily routine while the solution works. It typically takes 60-90 minutes.

After the solution does its work, remove the cap from the catheter and drain the fluid into a clean, empty bag. This is repeated four times of day if done manually.


Some of the pros of getting peritoneal dialysis include:

  • you have more options and independence with PD since it is done at home.
  • compared to HD, you may have fewer negative side effects.
  • compared to HD, you may have more freedom in what you can eat.
  • no machine is required with CAPD.
  • it takes less time.
  • with automated PD, you can do dialysis while you sleep.


  • you don’t have any days off as it must be done every day.
  • your blood glucose can be more difficult to control if you have diabetes.
  • there is the potential for an infection with a catheter.
  • you will need a machine with you at all times for automated peritoneal dialysis.

Schedule An Appointment

If you or a loved one are suffering from kidney failure, you have options with dialysis. To discuss your options and what type of dialysis is best for your needs, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gaurav Tandon at the Kidney Clinic of North Florida. Dr. Tandon is a board-certified nephrologist with years of expertise in managing dialysis and treating kidney-related diseases.

To schedule an appointment today, contact our Jacksonville, FL office at 904-593-5333 or use our online scheduling form.

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Your Plan for Eating Kidney-Friendly

Eating a kidney-friendly diet is essential for supporting healthy kidney function. Although many options exist for a balanced kidney-friendly diet, understanding how to get started can sometimes be overwhelming. These are a few ways you can get started on a diet that benefits your overall health and keeps the kidneys functioning properly.

1. Cut Back on Salt

Salt (sodium) is a mineral found in almost all foods and some sodium is needed to help your body function properly. However, too much salt can increase fluid retention, blood pressure, and kidney stress. It’s best to avoid adding extra salt when cooking and serving food. Choosing fresh food instead of canned or packaged options is the best way to avoid too much sodium in your diet.

Additionally, prepare more meals at home, so you can control what type of ingredients you consume. If eating out, ask for dishes with no added salt and choose healthier seasonings like herbs or spices to add flavor.

2. Balance Potassium

Potassium is high in many foods, such as avocados, beans, oranges, and bananas – usually staples of a healthy diet. Like sodium, a certain amount of potassium is needed for your body to function and it has an important role in muscle building and repair. Too much or too little potassium is a common sign of kidney disease. Imbalanced potassium levels can also cause muscle cramping, irregularities in your heartbeat, and muscle weakness.

3. Limit Phosphorus

Another tip for creating a kidney-friendly eating plan is limiting phosphorus intake. Found in whole-grain bread, bran cereals, nuts, and dark colas, phosphorus should be eaten in moderation when dealing with renal issues. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, phosphorus can build up in your blood and weaken the bones. Alternative food sources that are low in phosphorous are Italian or sourdough bread, corn cereals, and light-colored soda or lemonade.

4. Limit Fluid Intake

Damaged kidneys cannot flush extra water and fluids from the body as well as they should. Excess fluid in the body can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure, and swelling in the limbs. Not only should you limit drinks, but also watery foods like soup, ice cream, gelatin, fruits, and vegetables. Limiting your sodium intake, chewing gum, and rinsing your mouth with water and then spitting it out can help you feel less thirsty.

5. Limit Portion Sizes

It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to signal to the brain that you are full. To avoid overeating, eat slowly and stop eating when you start feeling full. Check the serving sizes on nutrition levels and consult with your doctor or a dietitian about serving sizes for foods without labels like fruits and vegetables. You can also try to avoid eating or set aside a portion while doing something else like watching TV. It’s easy to eat too much when you are distracted and not paying attention to how much you are consuming.

Contact Us Today

Following these tips, you can create an individualized plan for your kidney-friendly diet that works best with your lifestyle and health needs. Eating a balanced diet is essential to living a healthy life and supporting the kidneys! With a little creativity and planning, anyone can create delicious meals that are both nutritious and kidney-friendly.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Gaurav Tandon at Kidney Clinic of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL, for more individualized help with creating a kidney-friendly diet plan. Dr. Tandon is an expert in developing, managing, and treating all kidney-related diseases and he will be happy to answer any questions you might have.