dialysis nurses
Hemodialysis is a lifesaving treatment that brings many patients with kidney failure back to feeling like themselves. But sometimes, the treatment doesn’t go smoothly and leads to complications for dialysis patients. It’s important to keep track of these complications and know when to identify them in case they come back in the future. The sooner that you can identify these issues, the easier the treatment might be for the patient. Here are a few hemodialysis complications to look out for when providing hemodialysis treatment to patients.


For patients with diabetes, hypotension is a common side effect in hemodialysis treatments. Patients with this condition have low blood pressure, which comes as the result of the loss of fluid from blood during the treatment. Additionally, it will come with side effects like abdominal cramps, anxiety, nausea, blurred vision, and more. It can also increase the risk of blood clots, causing the patient to require some form of surgery. If left untreated or unnoticed, it can make the procedure worse for patients. 


Hypokalemia happens when levels of potassium, an important electrolyte for fluids, drop in a patient’s blood. This can cause several problems for the patient during their treatment, as the kidneys are already having a difficult time getting rid of the fluids. Some symptoms that might show up are fatigue, weakness, constipation, muscle cramping, and heart palpitations. It’s important to watch your patient’s reaction to the treatments because it could be life-threatening if they aren’t cared for. 

Fluid Overload

Although hemodialysis treatment removes fluid from the kidneys, patients need to follow a restrictive fluid intake to avoid fluid overload. When this happens, it can cause severe complications that may cause heart failure or a buildup of fluid in the lungs. Some symptoms that may come are swelling of the feet, ankles, wrists, and face, as well as shortness of breath. Making sure that your patients stick to a concrete fluid intake is important in keeping up with their care. 


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can occur when the patient consumes too much salt or fluids. It can lead to heart problems and strokes for the patient. It can also make a patient’s high blood pressure get worse if it is not taken care of. A  restricted diet is necessary for prolonging the patient’s life, especially if they are going through the procedure. 

Access Site Complications

During treatment, there may be complications with the access site. Sometimes, infections are caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream from the access site. Other complications include the narrowing or swelling of the blood vessel wall, blockage at the access site, and blood clots. Making sure that your patients follow your instructions when they come in for treatment is important for having a successful procedure. Some patients might have to take extra procedures like taking antibiotics and keeping up with proper hygiene can reduce the risk of this happening. 

If you keep a lookout for these complications, your patients might have a better time with their treatment. Keeping track of your patients throughout their treatment and making sure to check up on their fluid intake outside of treatment will make their treatments a lot easier. Kidney failure is tough, but it’s important to make sure that your patients are well taken care of during this tough time. 

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