Dialysis is a treatment that can take over the job of your kidneys. It is done during regular visits to a clinic. Your blood passes from your body to a machine. The machine will clean the blood then return it to your body. You may be on dialysis for a short time, or you may need it for the rest of your life.

There are two types of dialysis. This fact sheet will focus on hemodialysis.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • A drop in blood pressure during hemodialysis
  • Problems with heart rhythm
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Infection
  • Feeling hot, sweaty, weak, and/or lightheaded
  • Disruption of calcium and phosphorus balance, resulting in weakened bones

If you have heart problems, this may increase your risk of complications from hemodialysis.



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


Kidney Dialysis Foundation http://www.kdf.org.sg 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https://www.niddk.nih.gov 


Health Canada https://www.canada.ca 

The Kidney Foundation of Canada https://www.kidney.ca 


Hemodialysis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/hemodialysis. Accessed January 29, 2021.

Dialysis for end-stage renal disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900075/Dialysis-for-end-stage-renal-disease  . Accessed January 29, 2021.

Hemodialysis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/hemodialysis. Accessed January 29, 2021.