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...everything you need to know about doing dialysis at home.
Will a peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter set off an airport metal detector? Can you be intimate with your partner while using a PD cycler? Will your hair grow back in if it’s been falling out? We’ve found the answers to some tricky PD questions, so look no further!
Q: Will a PD catheter set off an airport metal detector?
A: No. There is not enough metal in a PD catheter to be a problem for you. Even a steel plate in an ankle won’t do the trick—though a total knee or hip joint replacement most likely will.1
Q: Can I be intimate with my partner while I’m on a cycler?
A: Yes. Just be sure that your catheter is well-taped, and safe from pulling or tugging. Or, you can fill, disconnect, and then reconnect before the drain cycle starts. (Some people do this to watch TV or do other evening tasks, too.)
Q: My hair has thinned. Will it grow back?
A: In most cases, yes. It is normal for about 1 in 10 hair follicles to be shedding (that’s 10,000 hairs) at any one time.2 In the months before kidney failure, two factors may speed up hair loss:
It may take a few months, but when you feel—and eat—better, your hair should grow back. If not, things to check are your:
In one study, Southeast Asian women had hair loss on dialysis that was linked to EPO (erythropoietin treatment for anemia).6
Q: Should I panic if I see blood in a drain bag?
A: No. Call your PD nurse, but keep in mind that a little blood can go a long way to color a bag. Very rarely, blood in a PD bag can mean peritonitis.7 If you have fever, pain, and/or the drain bag is also cloudy, this is worth checking.
Most often a bit of blood in a bag means that you:
If you keep having bloody bags, ask your doctor to do a more-thorough look to rule out other problems. There was one report in a published paper about a case of liver cancer that was caught early enough to treat successfully, due to blood in a PD bag.8
Q: How can I eat enough protein?
A: Unlike the tiny nephrons that filter blood in the kidneys, the peritoneum is “leaky” to protein. As a plus, this means PD is the only treatment that removes protein-bound wastes, like P-cresol (which can cause heart disease in people who don’t have diabetes).9 But, it also means you lose more protein, so you need to eat more.
Crawfish Photo by Joonas Lyytinen
Malnutrition (a serum albumin level <3.5 g/dL) can shorten your life. If it’s hard to get yourself to eat protein, here are some tips that may help:
Q: How can I stop cycler drain pain?
A: Some people on PD don’t feel anything when a cycle ends. Some have a bit of a pinch. And some have enough pain when their fluid levels get very low that they may even want to stop doing PD. For most, leaving a bit of fluid in the belly—called Tidal PD—will help. Tidal PD can also help if your pain is caused by a catheter tip that rubs against your internal organs when you are empty.
Changing your position in bed may help, too. Try turning from your back to your side, or from side to side.
Q: Can I swim or take a tub bath safely?
A: As you know, a PD catheter is a pathway into your peritoneum—which is meant to be sterile. Allowing any germs to get in means that you risk peritonitis. Some PD programs handle this by forbidding swimming. If your program does this, you need to respect their rules—or find another program.
If your program supports swimming, they will ask you to swim in an ocean (the salt kills germs) or a very chlorinated private pool.10 Fresh water, like rivers or lakes, or public pools grow too many germs to be safe for you on PD. Your catheter exit site needs to be fully healed, too. Some researchers believe a Tegaderm® dressing11 or a water-proof ostomy dressing12 over the exit site may reduce the risk of infection.
Tub or hot tub bathing is not a good choice for you if your PD catheter is in your abdomen. A presternal PD catheter13 is a safer option for bathing. Since it is placed in the chest, you can keep the exit site out of the water.
We hope these answers will ease your mind and help you overcome some PD challenges, so you can keep making PD work for you.
Copyright © 2009 Medical Education Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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