Dialysis Medications

To help you get the most out of your dialysis treatment and feel your best, you may need to take certain kidney failure medications and vitamins. Taking dialysis medications and vitamins can help you manage your health and replace nutrients you may lose due to treatment or eating a kidney-friendly diet. If you also have other health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, your care plan may also include additional medications prescribed by your doctor.

Your care team will monitor your health through the blood work you have at your regular lab appointments. Based on your lab results, your doctor may change or adjust your dialysis medication and vitamin prescriptions. Remember to tell your care team about any medications you’re taking-including over-the-counter medications and any medications prescribed by another doctor.

Following directions for each of your kidney failure medications

After kidney failure at stage 5 chronic kidney disease, dialysis treatment can replace some natural kidney functions by cleaning your blood and helping to maintain chemical balance. Because your body processes medications and vitamins differently when you’re on dialysis, following the dialysis medication guidelines and taking all medications exactly as prescribed—on time and with or without food as directed—is especially important to your health. If you’re not clear on how to take your dialysis medications, ask your care team or pharmacist—they are there to help.

9 common medications and vitamins for dialysis patients

Renal (Kidney) Vitamin Replaces vitamins and nutrients that are lost during dialysis or not adequately received through daily diet. Water-soluble renal vitamins include vitamins Bl, B2, B6, and B12; folic acid; niacin; pantothenic acid; biotin; and vitamin C.
Nutritional Vitamin D Works to correct the vitamin D deficiency that is common with kidney failure and may have additional health benefits. Nutritional vitamin D may be taken orally at home.
Iron Helps enhance hemoglobin production and treat anemia due to blood loss or deficiencies of iron in diet. Iron is needed to make red blood cells and keep you feeling your best. It may be given intravenously during dialysis or orally.
Phosphate Binder Reduces the absorption of phosphorus (PHOS) consumed in foods and drinks. Uncontrolled phosphorus levels can lead to a harmful buildup in your body since very little is removed during dialysis.
Stool Softener Relieves constipation that can be caused by limited fluid intake for people on dialysis, certain medications, or a lack of physical activity.
Heparin Prevents blood clots from forming as blood flows through dialysis tubing or the dialyzer during treatment.
Epogen, Aranesp or Mircera Helps your body create more red blood cells and raise your hemoglobin level to help fight anemia and decrease the need for a red blood cell transfusion.
Topical Creams & Antihistamines Relieves itching and dry skin that may be experienced by people on dialysis. Antihistamines are available as a cream or may be taken orally.
Blood Pressure Medications Help to control blood pressure in people on dialysis with hypertension (high blood pressure). Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause stress on your heart and lead to serious health complications over time.


Take advantage of monthly medication check-ins

Each month, your doctor will meet with you to review all of your medications to make sure that you are getting the medications you need. Depending on your blood test results and how you are feeling, your doctor may want to prescribe alternate medications or adjust some of your doses. Remember, your feedback is always important to your doctor and treatment team. So speak up, ask questions and let them know how you’re really feeling.


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Having trouble remembering which medications to take and when? Print and fill out this handy reminder sheet. 

It’s also important to keep a paper copy in case of an emergency. 


Food and binders go together to make a healthy heart and strong bones—so take them exactly as prescribed when you eat.
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4 tips for managing your medications

    1. Make sure you understand each of your medications—including what they do, what you’re taking them for, and how they benefit your health. It’s also important to be able to identify each medication and know how and when to take it. Managing your prescriptions according to dialysis medication guidelines is key to protecting your health and feeling your best. Taking your medication as directed can also mean better lab results and less time in the hospital. To help you stay organized, your nurse can work with you to create an up-to-date medication list.
    2. Check with your nephrologist (kidney doctor) before taking any new medications—that includes any antibiotics, cold or allergy medicines, pain relievers, vitamins, or herbal supplements, in addition to your regularly prescribed medications. Even over-the-counter medications and vitamins can affect your body differently when you’re on dialysis to treat kidney failure. Also tell your nephrologist about any new medications prescribed by any of your other doctors. It’s helpful to bring all medications you’re taking with you to your appointments, so you can check in with your care team.
    3. Work with your pharmacist to manage your medications—your pharmacist can help ensure there are no conflicts with any existing or new medications. He or she can also help you understand your medications and medication labels.
    4. Track your daily medication regimen—keep a paper or digital medication checklist of all of your prescriptions and vitamins, so you don’t miss a dose. You may even want to set an alarm to remind you when to take your medications. If you need help sorting your pills, ask your care partner or someone in your support network to help you stay organized.
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Pharmacists at FreseniusRx are specially trained in kidney disease and medications. Plus, we offer FREE medication delivery. Sign up at 1-800-947-3131 or with your care team.