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Important Lab Values for Patients on Dialysis

During dialysis treatment, you may hear a lot about lab values and goals. Some of your lab goals may be managed by sticking with your medication regimen.

If you have any questions about your side effects, or how to take your medications, call our pharmacists anytime. Our pharmacists specialize in kidney disease and are available 24/7 to answer your questions. Call 1-800-947-3131.

Common Lab Values for Patients on Dialysis

Phosphorus

This mineral is important for building strong bones. Too much phosphorus in the body can result in calcium being pulled from your bones, which can weaken bones and put you at risk for fractures. High phosphorus and calcium levels also can lead to calcium deposits in your blood vessels, lungs, eyes and heart, and is linked to mortality. Coming to all of your dialysis treatments, limiting the phosphorus in your foods, and taking phosphorus binders prescribed by your doctor are all important in managing your phosphorus levels.

How medications help: Phosphorus binders are medications that bind with the phosphorus in your food to prevent it from being absorbed by the body. Watch the video below to learn more about what phosphorus is and why it matters.

“Phosphorus Matters”

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Parathyroid Hormone (PTH)

The parathyroid hormone influences calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D levels in the blood, which helps regulate bone growth. A poor balance of calcium and phosphorus can result in high PTH levels, and that can lead to bone disease.

How medications help: Your doctor may order vitamin D to help lower PTH levels. Talk to your doctor before taking an over-the-counter vitamin D supplement. In addition, your doctor may prescribe other medications that may lower your PTH level. Your doctor will recommend which option is best for you.

Calcium

This mineral helps keep your bones strong. Calcium levels that are out of balance may contribute to heart disease and weak bones.

How medications help: If your calcium levels are low, your doctor may prescribe Vitamin D. You may be prescribed a phosphorus binder that contains calcium. If your calcium levels are high, your doctor may change your phosphorus binder to one that does not contain calcium and tell you to avoid high-calcium foods.

Invisible Effects

It isn’t always easy to tell when your lab values are outside the expected ranges. You may not notice certain signs and symptoms, like weakening bones and bone disease.

Here are some of the more noticeable side effects that may be related to kidney medications. If you do experience side effects like the following, talk to your doctor right away:

  • Back pain
  • Bad breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Feeling weak
  • Fever
  • Itching and dry skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Pale skin
  • Poor hearing
  • Stomach pain
  • Too much urine or not enough
  • Trouble sleeping

It’s important to take your medications when and how your doctor prescribes them to help keep side effects like these at bay, and to help stay on track with your lab goals. Call our pharmacists any time if you need support with taking your medications as prescribed.