While you are on dialysis, you doctor will frequently monitor blood tests. Depending upon the results of those tests, doctors may prescribe medications such as:
Active Vitamin D“” A hormonally-active form of vitamin D is produced by the kidneys. As patients progress with kidney failure, this level drops significantly and can contribute to dialysis patients developing bone disease. Doctors will prescribe oral or injected active vitamin D as indicated.
Phosphorus binders “” The kidneys are responsible for regulating the amount of phosphorus in the body. Phosphorus works in combination with calcium to keep bones healthy and strong. It also supports nerve and muscle function. When levels get too high, excess calcium and phosphorus deposits can increase the risk for heart disease, damaged blood vessels and skin problems. Weak bones can also result. If your level is high, along with a lower phosphorus diet, doctors will prescribe oral medications called phosphorus binders that will help prevent you from absorbing phosphorus from your food.
Iron “” Patients with kidney disease are often anemic. Anemia occurs when your blood lacks the right amount of healthy red blood cells. On average, you will lose about 30 mg of iron per dialysis treatment. To offset that loss, doctors will prescribe intravenous iron that can be given during dialysis treatments. The additional iron helps the body make more red blood cells.
Erythropoietin Stimulating Agents (ESAs) “” If you are diagnosed with anemia, doctors may prescribe a medication that will stimulate the production of more red blood cells in your bone marrow. Your physician will monitor these medications closely and prescribe the lowest dose and safest dose possible to treat your anemia.
Do NOT take any medication that is not approved by your kidney doctors. Even over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements can be dangerous to your health. Your kidney doctor should be aware of any other medications that have been prescribed by other physicians.
Make it a habit to bring a list of current medications, including any over-the-counter medications you have taken, to every dialysis appointment.
And be sure to let your team know whenever you have an appointment with a dentist or gynecologist, or plan to have minor surgery. Your doctor may prescribe additional medications to prevent infections.