Check Out Our Patient Resources

The experts at the Howard University Dialysis Center encourage patients to educate themselves by conducting research, asking questions and having a general understanding of kidney disease and various treatment options. We are fully committed to helping our patients achieve the best possible health outcomes by providing expert medical care, supportive counseling and a wide range of resources throughout a patient's dialysis journey. Scroll below to find out more information.

How Your Kidneys Work

Both of your kidneys are made up of a million filtering units called nephrons. These nephrons includes a filter, called the glomerulus and a tubule. The nephrons work using a two-step process. Each nephron has a glomerulus, a cluster of tiny blood vessels that filters your blood and a tubule that returns needed substances to your blood and filters out additional wastes.  As the filtered fluid moves along the tubule, the blood vessel reabsorbs almost all of the water, along with minerals and nutrients your body needs. The tubule also helps remove excess acid from the blood. The remaining fluid and wastes in the tubule is converted into urine.

Living Healthy On Dialysis

Living a healthier lifestyle while you're on dialysis is an integral part of keeping a positive attitude and staying focused. Eat healthy. Keep in mind, the more toxins you put into your body, the more waste you’ll produce. More waste means longer dialysis treatments. A healthy diet will help prevent some common dialysis side-effects. Get the recommended amount of sleep (8-9 hours) each day. Take time out of your schedule to exercise, which is great for your overall health. Start a regular routine such as walking, which will provide you with immediate health benefits. Speak with your physician before you decide to begin any type of exercise regimen.

Managing Your Diet

If you are living with Chronic Kidney Disease that means you will have to make some basic adjustments to your diet in order to help you stay as healthy as possible. You will have to monitor everything that you eat and drink at all times. Being in control of your food intake and nutrition will have a positive impact on your overall health and how you feel. Depending upon what stage (earlier stage kidney disease vs. end stage renal disease) of kidney disease you are in, will determine what type of diet you are allowed to have. Nutritionist recommend a limited protein intake in stages 1-4 of kidney disease as a key to avoid stressing your kidneys. However, people that are on dialysis should have a diet that increases their protein amounts. That’s because you lose protein during treatments.  It's important to have a general understanding of CKD stages and how nutrition can impact your body.

Once you get into routine diet for kidney disease, you’ll start learn what foods to look out for and the certain nutrients that can affect your health. A kidney friendly diet promotes eating fresh foods with a limit on salt, potassium, and phosphorus foods. Look for balanced foods that will keep your potassium in a safe range. Check with a dietician who can help you meal plan, stay within your dialysis diet guidelines, recommend recipes, and also provide you with a better understanding of nutrition basics. A dietician can also teach you how to make smart choices while you are at the grocery store.

The two key differences are monitoring your proteins and fluid intake:

Increased proteins are needed while on dialysis:

  • Look for protein choices such as: beans, beef, chicken, edamame, eggs, fish, lamb, lentils, tofu, turkey, veal, and wild game.

  • Choose, fresh, all-natural, low sodium meat, without preservatives.

  • A typical serving size of protein is about 3-5 ounces.

Excessive amounts of fluids may cause:

  • A build-up between dialysis sessions.

  • Headaches and low energy

  • Swelling in your face, hands, and feet

  • Trouble breathing from fluid in your lungs

  • Heart damage and high blood pressure/stroke

People on a dialysis fluid restriction diet should typically drink up to 32 oz or less each day. Your dietitian will discuss your specific fluid requirements. To help you monitor your fluid intake, keep a journal on how much you drink or eat each day.

Avoid Getting An Infection

If you are on dialysis treatments, it’s very important to avoid any kinds of infections. Infections can occur when bacteria, viruses or fungi enter the body by touch or inhalation through the nose or mouth. Some people on dialysis may be susceptible to get an infection due to health conditions like diabetes. People living with kidney disease are also at greater risk for complications related to illnesses like the Flu, COVID-19 and pneumonia.

Dialysis Time Management

It’s critically important to plan out your time to complete your full dialysis treatments. Reducing your dialysis treatment time will have an adverse impact on your care over time, which can cause serious health complications such as a build up of waste and toxins in your body and the risk of hospitalization. Talk to your care team if you have a scheduling conflict or if you plan to miss a dialysis session. They may be able to provide you with a feasible alternative.

Considering A Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant is a major medical decision but can be an ideal treatment option for kidney failure. As a life- changing measure, it provides an opportunity for your kidneys to return to their natural functions rather than relying on alternative treatments. If you are on dialysis and may be considering a transplant, you should be aware of the benefits as well as the possible risks associated with the procedure. It's important to educate yourself on all aspects of possible outcomes that may accompany this life-changing therapy.

Potential benefits of a kidney transplant may include:

  • You may be able to stop dialysis treatment altogether once your kidney function returns.

  • You may have more energy and enjoy a more active lifestyle.

  • You may have better overall health and see improvements in blood pressure, fluid retention, and other complications associated with kidney failure.

  • You may have fewer dietary restrictions and be able to eat and drink more of what you enjoy.

  • You may have a better quality of life, feel much healthier and live longer.

Potential risks of a kidney transplant may include:

  • Your new kidney may not start working immediately and you may need dialysis until function resumes.

  • Your body could reject the donor organ and medication might be needed to help your body accept the new kidney.

  • Your new kidney may fail after several years, and you may need to have another transplant or go back on dialysis.

Potential side effects of a kidney transplant may include:

  • Renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the artery leading to the kidney).

  • Blood clots.

  • Weight gain.

  • High blood pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

What Can I Do To Protect My Kidneys?

One of the ways you can slow down damage to your kidneys is by keeping your blood pressure and blood sugar levels under control. This may mean taking daily medication. It’s also important to exercise on a regular basis and maintain a healthy weight. Exercising will help to reduce your blood pressure and keep blood sugar levels steady. Cutting back on salt and protein and foods that are high in potassium and phosphorous is another way to ease the burden on your kidneys.

How Does Diet Effect My Kidneys?

Your diet plays an integral part in the way your kidneys operate. One way to preserve your kidney function is to modify your eating habits into nutrition-based diet that can help to reduce your kidney's workload and preserve or delay the progression of kidney disease. A dietitian can help you make good choices with the foods you eat as well as provide suggestions to moderate in your food intake.

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Call (202) 865-7365 to schedule a tour of our dialysis center.