What Is Peritonitis?
Understanding peritonitis causesPeritonitis most often starts when a PD catheter extension or cap is accidentally touched while the catheter is being connected for treatment. Bacteria that’s on your fingertips gets transferred to the catheter, where it can enter the peritoneum and cause an infection. Contamination is common and can happen easily. It’s important to tell your nurse immediately if you think you may have been contaminated by touching your catheter extension, dropping any of your supplies on the floor or forgetting to wear a mask. She or he can tell you how to protect your health.
Peritonitis can also occur when an exit site infection spreads to the catheter tunnel under the skin. Proper exit site care is important and checking your site daily can help you take action early if there are signs of infection.
How can you prevent peritonitis?
- Keep your PD catheter and exit site clean and dry.
- Once your access site has healed, shower daily if possible.
- Avoid swimming or tub baths unless approved by your doctor.
- Always do all the steps for thorough handwashing or sanitizing.
- Take care of your access site every day, using the instructions from your care team.
- Put on a new mask every time you care for your access site.
- Don’t let your uncapped catheter tip touch your skin or any other surface.
- Keep the end of your catheter capped and clamped.
- Check your catheter tunnel and exit site every day for redness, drainage, tenderness or swelling.
- Ask your care team before putting powder, lotion or cream on your access site.
Remember, you're the most important member of your care team because you're the one who's most aware of your body and what's normal and healthy for you. if you think you missed any of the steps to proper care, call your nurse to learn what to do to avoid getting an infection. Catching peritonitis early is essential to your safety and avoiding hospitalization.
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What are the signs and symptoms of peritonitis?
Here's what to look for:
- Dialysis drain fluid that looks cloudy, smells bad or has white specks, strands or clumps when it drains from your body
- An exit site that looks red, has pus or is swelling or bulging
- A catheter cuff showing outside your skin
- Pain or tenderness in your abdomen
- Fever, nausea or vomiting
- Feeling more tired or thirsty than usual
- Loss of appetite
Tip: Snap a photo of how your access site looks when it's healthy. If at any time you think it looks different, take a new photo and send both to your nurse. Comparing the 2 photos will help your nurse spot an infection.
Treatment for peritonitisPeritonitis can be cured with antibiotics and taking early action is important. As soon as you think you may have contaminated your catheter or might have an infection, tell your nurse. The sooner you can be treated, the more effective you can be at keeping the infection from spreading.
Starting antibiotics within 2 hours of contamination is ideal. Your care team may give you dialysate that has antibiotics added to it for your next exchange—or you may be given antibiotic pills. You can trust your care team to know the best approach.