A reliable ride to kidney dialysis can truly make the difference between sickness and wellness, life and even death. Missing treatment can mean different things for different people and how many treatments you miss will also make a difference.
Patients typically visit an in-center facility three times a week for around four hours of hemodialysis. Treatment is often the most consistent thing in a patient’s life, and for good reason – it is the key to maintaining your health.
What Happens When You Miss Kidney Dialysis?
Depending on how quickly toxin levels build up in your blood between treatments, it is possible for the toxins and fluids to reach a point that makes you very sick and could even be fatal. Toxin levels may build more slowly in your body, in which case, you could manage missing an appointment without it presenting so many dangers.
No matter how fast or slow toxins build up in your system, frequently missing dialysis appointments, or missing more than one appointment in a row, is a dangerous way to manage your health. Over the long run, it means you will not be receiving enough treatment, and this can impact your long-term health and prognosis.
You shouldn’t miss any treatments without first discussing it with your doctor. Dialysis shouldn’t be skipped without medical monitoring, even if you are feeling ill at the time of your scheduled treatment.
Kidney (renal) failure means the body is no longer able to filter waste from the blood, this results in a range of problems including swelling of the hands and feet, internal bleeding, confusion, seizures, coma, high blood pressure, chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion, numbness, nausea, vomiting, itching, fatigue, and even seizures and/or coma.
True Story: I Missed Dialysis for a Week
Sometimes, unavoidable circumstances like a natural disaster can get it in the way of a patient making it to their treatment. For instance, Ariel Brigham, a Houston resident, was forced to go seven days without dialysis treatment after becoming flooded in her home during Hurricane Harvey.
Seven days without treatment took a serious toll on Ariel, who told kidneyfund.org that she gained thirty pounds in fluids and was incredibly swollen. “My face, my hands, my legs, my whole body was super swollen. It was really hard and pretty much all I could do was sleep.”
On top of that, she was incredibly sick, vomiting around the clock to the point she suffered dehydration and had to be hospitalized. The hospital was so backed up that they threatened to send her home without treatment if her numbers weren’t high enough. With a potassium level of 7.8, levels high enough to stop the heart and lead to death, doctors decided to treat Ariel on the spot. Her heart was slowing down, and doctors needed to act fast to save her life.
Ariel is now back to her regular three-times a week treatment schedule. She has since lost all of the fluid she gained. “Everything is back to normal and my levels are good,” she said.
Common Reasons People Miss Dialysis
Hurricanes don’t make landfall every day, and so while they can present a serious risk to missing treatment, there are more common reasons why people miss a treatment here and there. One of the most common reasons relates to a lack of transportation.
You don’t ever have to worry about missing dialysis again when you enlist help from Stellar Transportation. We offer special rates for dialysis patients, including three trips per week. Ambulatory, wheelchair and stretcher accommodations are available. Learn more