Should Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Ever Consider Skipping Dialysis Treatments Even When Sick?

Lately has received several viewer emails such as the following, "I have the flu with a fever and am considering not going to my Dialysis Session. What would you recommend?" Many Chronic Kidney Disease patients understand that their immune systems are more compromised than most, and thus catching an infection or virus is rather easy. Hence, Dialysis patients may believe by skipping their Dialysis Treatment they will be doing their peers a favor as well as preventing themselves from possibly getting sicker, right? Wrong!

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If you are sick or not feeling well, still recommends that you conduct your regular Dialysis treatments. You may ask "Why would they recommend conducting Dialysis even if I have the flu or a fever?" Well the answer is simple, according to Davita (a Large Dialysis Organization) just missing 2 treatments a year increases a Dialysis patient's mortality risk by 2.3%. The risk of mortality only increases more drastically with the more treatments a Chronic Kidney Disease patient misses (24 per year = a whopping 28% increased risk of mortality). Thus, just by completing all (or as many as possible) of their Dialysis Sessions, people with Chronic Kidney Disease can greatly improve their life expectancy.

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If you conduct In-Center Hemodialysis, your clinic will likely have you wear a face mask and separate you in an isolation room so that you do not make other patients sick or get sicker. What's more is that your Healthcare Team can easily take the appropriate steps to ensure your symptoms are in fact the flu rather than a more serious infection, virus or underlying complication. 

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If your nurse finds that you have a more serious complication, s/he will likely direct you to a local Emergency Room where you can receive Dialysis treatments while Doctors can take better corrective action. Similarly, if you are a Home Dialysis patient and don't feel confident in your ability to do your treatment safely, you should call your home training nurse and request In-Center treatments temporarily. You should know that when a Dialysis Clinic gets certification from Medicare to offer Home Dialysis training and support, it also agrees to provide In-Center Dialysis to its Home Dialysis patients as needed. 

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Regardless, Chronic Kidney Disease patients should consider letting their Dialysis Clinic know ahead of time that they are not feeling well so staff can make appropriate accommodations before-hand. Nevertheless, if you choose to skip your Dialysis treatment, given the downsides outlined in this article, do not be overly emotional or depressed as that could further burden your health and extend recovery time. Be sure, however, to monitor your fluid intake and maintain a very stringent diet as recommended by your Healthcare Team. 

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