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Diabetes and Dialysis: When is Dialysis Recommended?

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Red Ricafort · Updated Aug 16, 2022

Diabetes and Dialysis: When is Dialysis Recommended?

What’s the relationship between diabetes and dialysis? Your kidneys are responsible for filtering the wastes from your blood. But when your kidneys fail, dialysis might be needed to continue their function. This is usually done when you have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.

One common cause of kidney failure is diabetes, a condition when your blood sugar is too high. Diabetes can cause damage to the delicate blood vessels in and around the kidneys, which can result in high blood pressure and possible organ failure. For people diagnosed with diabetes and kidney failure, dialysis is a required treatment

What exactly is dialysis?

Dialysis is used to care for the filtering of your blood and balancing fluids, minerals, and acids in your body when your kidneys are unable to. This can be done through a dialysis machine or peritoneal dialysis, which uses the abdominal lining to filter blood within your body. 

When is it recommended?

A person goes through this treatment due to kidney failure, usually caused by kidney disease or other injuries and diseases that affect your kidney, like diabetes. Dialysis can also be recommended when waiting for a kidney transplant or if you are not an eligible candidate for a transplant.

The high blood sugar caused by diabetes can later increase blood pressure within the kidneys and damage them, which may warrant the need for dialysis. When your organs have a hard time filtering your blood, this could lead to kidney failure over time.

Not everyone with diabetes may develop kidney disease but you are at higher risk. It is highly advised to contact your doctor to check for signs of kidney disease

What happens during dialysis?

There are 2 types of dialysis, each categorized by how your blood would be filtered.


This type of dialysis uses an external machine. Your blood will pass through a tube to the machine where your blood would be filtered. The filtered blood would be returned to your body using the same tube.

Peritoneal dialysis

This type is when your peritoneum, the lining inside your abdomen, is used instead of a machine. A cut would be made into your abdomen where a catheter would be inserted. Once in place, fluid will fill up the peritoneal cavity through the catheter.

The tiny blood vessels in the cavity remove wastes from your blood when it passes through. After a few hours, the fluid is removed and replaced to repeat the process. Your health care provider will discuss the pros and cons of each type so you could better decide which one you prefer.

What to expect during treatment

Dialysis can make you feel tired after every session. How long your sessions last depend on the type of dialysis. If you will be going to a dialysis center for your treatment, your healthcare provider will be with you every step of the way. But undergoing dialysis will not prevent you from continuing your daily activities. 

Key Takeaways

Detecting kidney disease at an early stage, especially if you are diabetic, could help you avoid further health complications due to your condition. But should it progress and lead to kidney failure,  dialysis treatments can help you lead a more normal life. 

Your health care provider will be with you at every step of your dialysis journey. But with a better lifestyle and strict management of your condition, your situation may improve faster. 

Learn more about Diabetes Complications here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mia Dacumos, MD

Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Red Ricafort · Updated Aug 16, 2022

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