Learn About Dialysis Reactions

While haemodialysis treatment can be efficient at replacing some of the kidney’s lost functions, you may experience some of the related conditions listed below, although not everyone experiences all of these issues. Your dialysis team can help you deal with them.

Low blood pressure (hypotension)

A drop in blood pressure is a common side effect of haemodialysis, particularly if you have diabetes. Low blood pressure may be accompanied by shortness of breath, abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting.

Muscle cramps

Although the cause is not clear, muscle cramps during haemodialysis are common. Sometimes the cramps can be eased by adjusting the haemodialysis prescription. Adjusting fluid and sodium intake between haemodialysis treatments may also help prevent symptoms during treatments.


Many people who undergo haemodialysis have itchy skin, which is often worse during or just after the procedure.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

If you consume too much salt or drink too much fluid, your high blood pressure is likely to get worse and lead to heart problems or strokes.

Fluid overload

Since fluid is removed from your body during haemodialysis, drinking more fluids than recommended between haemodialysis treatments may cause life-threatening complications, such as heart failure or fluid accumulation in your lungs (pulmonary oedema).

Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart (pericarditis)

Insufficient haemodialysis can lead to inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, which can interfere with your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of your body.

High potassium levels (hyperkalaemia)

Potassium is a mineral that is normally removed from the body by the kidneys. If you eat more potassium than recommended, your potassium level may become too high. In severe cases, too much potassium can cause your heart to stop.

Access site complications

Potentially dangerous complications — such as infection, narrowing or ballooning of the blood vessel wall (aneurysm), or blockage — can impact the quality of your haemodialysis. Follow your dialysis team’s instructions on how to check for changes in your access that may indicate a problem.

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