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Frequently Asked Questions

How will I know when I need to start dialysis?

As your kidney function declines you may begin to have symptoms of your kidney disease.
Symptoms of kidney failure include:
  • tiredness
  • lack of sleep
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • lack of appetite
  • itching
  • breathlessness
  • constipation
  • weakness and lack of energy.
You can talk to your GP, kidney doctor, and others about how you are being affected by your kidney failure.
It is important that you mention to your doctor what symptoms you are feeling.  How you are feeling is one of the factors your kidney doctor will look at when deciding if it is time to start dialysis.

Who chooses my treatment type?

The final choice or treatment type for your kidney disease is your decision.

Your kidney doctor, GP and the Kidney Treatment Options Coordinators are people who can help you.  By providing education materials and answering your questions about the treatment options available.

Who can I talk to about my treatment choices?

It is important to get as much information as possible about your treatment options.  This is to help make an informed decision about your future plans. There are people to talk to about your treatment choices.  It helps when deciding which option suits you the best. These people include:

  • Your kidney doctor (nephrologist)
  • The Kidney Treatment Options Coordinators
  • The Kidney Social Worker
  • Other renal nurses and doctors
  • Your GP
  • Family and friends
  • Kidney Health Australia Kidney Buddies volunteer
  • Local volunteer dialysis patients

How do I get to and from my treatment?

Transport is important to think about when you are making decisions about treatment options.

It is YOUR responsibility to arrange your transport to and from the unit for your treatment.

Remember that your kidney failure is not a short-term problem. You need to transport yourself to and from the dialysis unit at least three times a week.  This is for as long as you need dialysis which can be for many years.

Some issues to consider are:

  • Cost of petrol
  • Wear and tear on your vehicle
  • Amount of time spent travelling to and from dialysis
  • Long term commitment to travel placed on your family if they are assisting with travel
  • The impact on yours and your family’s work and lifestyle.

Community transport can be an option for people living in some suburbs. Your local council can be a good starting point for finding out more information.

Other support may be through aged care packages or NDIS packages.  Contact our Renal Social Work team for more information.

How will I feel after my dialysis treatment?

Starting dialysis will not make you feel better straight away. It will take time for dialysis to remove the chemicals in your blood that make you feel unwell.

Depending on the type of dialysis you have, you can sometimes feel a bit tired after your treatment.

Haemodialysis changes your body’s chemicals, this and the removal of fluid can make you feel tired after your treatment. Planning a rest after treatment can help this.

Peritoneal dialysis is a gentler method of dialysis that is done every day.  You may not feel as tired following this type of treatment.

What is the routine of dialysis?

The dialysis routine changes depending on the type of dialysis you choose.  The two types are Peritoneal Dialysis and Haemodialysis


On average haemodialysis treatment will be three times a week for four to five hours, every week of the year.

You will also need to allow time for preparing and completing the treatment. Staff at the dialysis unit will help you find a routine that fits in with your lifestyle.  Due to the roster availability, there can be limitations to appointment times.

How many hours of dialysis you have each week should be a shared decision between you and your health care team.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is done at home and usually done every day. Peritoneal dialysis can be done overnight using a special machine.  It can also be done during the daytime.

If you choose home

Dialysis at home means that you have the equipment to do your treatment at a time that suits you. This could be every second day, overnight, or whichever time fits best.

The benefit of doing dialysis at home is that you can change your dialysis routine to suit you.

Your renal options team will give you more information.

How long will dialysis be needed?

When dialysis starts for End Stage Kidney Disease it is usually an ongoing treatment.  Dialysis will continue for as long as you consent to having the treatment or until you get a kidney transplant, if this is an option.

How much does it cost?

Dialysis treatment is funded through Medicare. In the public health system, there is no cost to you for your ongoing dialysis therapy.

For people doing dialysis at home, dialysis stock and supplies are free of charge.  There may be some small costs required for items such as liquid soap and papertowel.

There is help available with setup costs for home dialysis. The home training team can help you.

If you have Private Health Insurance you may be able to have haemodialysis in a private unit.  Please check with your health fund provider.

Can I go on holiday?

Holiday dialysis can be arranged with help from your Kidney Doctor and nurses.  What type of dialysis you have means your holiday choices can vary.

You can have haemodialysis as a holiday patient in other Units around Australia or overseas.

If you have peritoneal dialysis, you can travel with your equipment or arrange to have supplies delivered to your holiday location.

Please speak to nurses in your home unit for more help.

What if I don't want it?

Some people choose not to have dialysis treatment.

Reasons for this may be:

  • You are already frail
  • You have other serious health conditions
  • You do not want a complex and ongoing medical treatment

If you don’t want to have dialysis treatment, there is a Kidney Supportive Care Team.  The team work with your kidney doctor to help control your symptoms.

This team has a registered nurse, a Doctor that specialises in pain management and palliative care, a social worker and a dietitian.

The Kidney Supportive Care team and your Kidney Doctor work to help you have the best possible quality of life as your kidney function declines.