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Dialysis Lifestyle Changes

Life might look a little different when you’re on dialysis. You can expect some changes to your lifestyle, and the way you choose to manage these changes depends on your priorities. When it comes to improving your quality of life on dialysis, consider what’s important to you while keeping your kidney health in mind. Many people find that the flexibility of home dialysis is a great fit.

Typical Lifestyle Changes That Come with Starting Dialysis Treatment

If you have kidney failure, you can expect some changes beyond caring for your health. Treating kidney failure with dialysis touches many areas of your daily life, including:

  • Schedule shifts. Any kind of dialysis will shake up your usual agenda. Treatment durations, trips to and from the dialysis center, and doctor’s appointments become part of your new routine. 
  • Treatments. Doing dialysis treatments as your doctor prescribes will help you feel your best. Still, it may take some time to get used to the processes and physical sensations of dialysis. You might also notice a few physical changes during treatment.
  • Diet adjustments. If you have kidney failure, your doctor will probably instruct you to eat a kidney-friendly diet. You may also be asked to drink less liquid while on dialysis.
  • Medications and health changes. Treating your kidney failure may require new or more medications. You may also be managing other health conditions as well as chronic kidney disease. 

What Makes the Home Dialysis Lifestyle Different?

Home treatments can help make the common dialysis lifestyle changes manageable. Doctors usually prescribe home treatments to be done more frequently than in-center. This is closer to natural kidney function, so it puts less stress on your body. Many people find home dialysis helps them feel better, live a more flexible lifestyle, and enjoy fewer dialysis restrictions. Benefits of home dialysis may include:

  • Flexible treatment schedules. You and your doctor can set up a treatment schedule that fits into your lifestyle, so you can have more free time to continue working, going to school, or enjoying hobbies.
  • Fewer dietary restrictions. Frequent treatments are more efficient at removing excess nutrients and fluid, so you may be able to have a more flexible diet.
  • Fewer medications. Doing home dialysis more often than in-center allows less time for waste and fluid to build up in your body between treatments. This means your doctor may prescribe fewer medications to manage your health.
  • More energy. Since frequent treatments are more like natural kidney function, you may recover from dialysis treatments faster and keep your energy up.1,2
  • Fewer trips to the dialysis center. Home treatments cut down on the time and expenses of transportation to and from the dialysis center.
  • More opportunity to travel. Some people take advantage of the flexibility and portability of home dialysis to visit family, friends, and other destinations.
  • Staying healthier at home. When you’re doing treatments at home, you’ll have less exposure to germs during cold and flu season.
  • Convenience of being at home. Instead of going to the dialysis center multiple times per week, you may be able to do treatments from the comfort of your favorite armchair or wherever you feel cozy. Some people even do dialysis while sleeping.

Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life on Dialysis

Lifestyle changes for people on dialysis are to be expected, but you have the power to improve your quality of life. Whether you choose to do dialysis in-center or at home, there are some ways you can live well and feel your best.

Eating a kidney-friendly diet, managing your medications, and staying active are great ways to keep up your strength and energy. Always check with your doctor before making changes to your diet or starting new exercise.

Keeping up with the things you love—like hobbies, activities, and quality time with friends and family—will support your emotional well-being. It can be hard to stay motivated, so it’s important to recognize that managing dialysis can be an emotional roller coaster. Reach out to your support system to feel more confident and take care of your mental health.

Ask yourself, “What would improve my quality of life?” For many people, the benefits of home dialysis are the answer. No matter how you choose to do your treatments, it’s important to support your whole health—from kidney care to your sense of well-being. Ask your kidney doctor about treatment options and find out more about how you can thrive.


1 Heidenheim, AP, Muirhead N, Moist L, Lindsay RM. Patient quality of life on quotidian hemodialysis.” American Journal of Kidney Diseases 2003;42(1 Suppl):36-41.

2 Target N, Courivaud C, Michel PA, Daoud S, Thomas M. Comparison of physical activity and quality of life in home haemodialysis (HHD) patients versus conventional in-centre haemodialysis (ICHD) patients: the observational, longitudinal, prospective, international, multicentric SeCoIA study protocol. BMC Nephrology 2020;21(1):500.

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