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Dialysis: debunking the myths, learning the facts

Your doctor has suggested that you undergo dialysis. What you need to keep in mind is that this is the continuation of a treatment. It IS a treatment; a treatment that will allow you to continue living your life. Hemodialysis is surrounded by many myths that confuse and disorient patients and their families.
Let’s start by taking a look at these myths:

Myth: When I start dialysis I will become a “burden” on my family

Truth: The time before starting the treatment may be “difficult” for the family. The patients usually do not feel well and this can really be hard on people close to them. Beginning dialysis is also an “unknown” process in the early days, which can also cause a “disturbance” in the family environment. As time goes by, however, when the patient starts feeling better and “gets used” to dialysis, the situation normalizes and its effect on the family is extremely small.

Myth: Dialysis is painful

Truth: The dialysis procedure is completely painless. The only “painful” sensation is when the nurse places the dialysis needles in the fistula. This is a bit more intense than drawing blood for a blood test because dialysis needles are larger in diameter than the simple ones we are used to. There are special ointments that are applied a few minutes before starting dialysis, which anesthetize the puncture site and help eliminate the feeling of pain, or render it minimal.

Myth: Dialysis is synonymous with death

Truth: When your doctor suggests you undergo dialysis, it means that your kidney failure is now very serious and dangerous. The primary purpose of dialysis is to sustain life and subsequently greatly improve your quality of life. So it is NOT synonymous with death, but life!

Myth: Dialysis will completely change your diet and you will give up many of your favorite foods.

Truth: Naturally, kidney failure alters the patient’s diet and comes with some limitations. Patients are not completely free. In no case, however, should they give up their favorite foods. There are many ways to adapt your diet to the new treatment (dialysis) without any major changes. This is achieved in collaboration with your attending physician and dietitian.

Myth: Starting dialysis means no more traveling and going on vacation for me and my family

Truth: There are plenty of reliable dialysis units across the country, even on small islands. The only difference is that, before their trip, patients should make arrangements for their dialysis in the place they have chosen for their vacation. Traveling abroad is of course also possible this way.

Myth: I have many health problems. I will not be able to “take” dialysis

Truth: Hemodialysis is a highly specialized treatment that uses machines and techniques of advanced technology. These, combined with the excellent training of the medical and nursing staff, can ensure the provision of SAFE dialysis to every patient.

Myth: After starting dialysis, no one will care about my health anymore

Truth: Monitoring hemodialysis patients is a regular and thorough procedure that includes regular laboratory and clinical testing, regular routine examinations, and also emergency testing whenever necessary. The patients are always aware of their health condition, which is monitored constantly.

Myth: A person on dialysis cannot work or attend school

Truth: In the early days of the treatment this is true because of the patient’s poor condition due to kidney failure (not dialysis), and the insecurity that this “new” procedure may have caused. Gradually, however, when balance is restored in their life, the patient is able to work and attend classes. The only problem that may arise in their work is the schedule. Dialysis units, however, also provide the possibility of arranging one’s dialysis in the afternoon.

Myth: Dialysis is very complicated. I don’t know what they are doing to me. I can have no opinion on that

Truth: The patients undergoing dialysis are constantly informed about the state of their health, the quality of their dialysis, and their laboratory testing. They are informed by their attending nephrologist, who explains the procedure and state of their dialysis in detail. Naturally, the patient can always intervene after being informed in regard to their treatment.

By the Scientific Director Aristides Paraskevopoulos