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Renal Dialysis and Headache

Can Dialysis Cause Headaches? 

70% of patients complain of a headache due to extra toxin in the blood, high blood pressure, dialysis imbalance syndrome, and electrolyte imbalance. 

One of the most common ymptoms during dialysis is frequent headache. But most patients do not know how it occurs. The followings are the answers to the myth.

A. Extra toxins in blood. Though dialysis can help discharge some of the toxins, it takes no effect on some middle and macro molecule toxins. With the blood circulation, the remaining toxins in blood will affect the nervous in your mind, causing headache.

B. High blood pressure. High blood pressure during dialysis is one of the causes of headache. You are suggested to control sodium intake in your diet. If headache occurs frequently, you need to ask doctor to stop dialysis.

C. Dialysis imbalance syndrome. The incidence of dialysis imbalance syndrome is 3.4%-20%. It is more common after starting dialysis for a short time. The main features of this syndrome is nausea, vomit, headache, cramps and even coma.

D. Electrolyte imbalance. Dialysis also remove the extra electrolyte in blood. But not all extra electrolyte can be removed. So there will be electrolyte imbalance, which can also lead to headahce. 

"Can Dialysis Cause Headache." Kidney Disease. N.p., 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Headache And Nausea During Dialysis

Headache and nausea are the two most common complaints among dialysis patients? They are torturous and affect patients’ life quality directly. Well, why patients have these discomforts during or after dialysis? Will dialysis patients suffer other discomforts aside from them?

Why do dialysis patients have headache and nausea?

Both headache and nausea are bothersome side effects of dialysis. For headache, it usually occurs as as the result of hypertension, rapid fluid or electrolyte shift, quick clearance of body fluid and nervous tension and so on. And for nausea, the most common causes are hypotension, uremia and disequilibrium syndrome and so on.

They are common side effects of dialysis, however, this does not mean all the dialysis patients have these discomforts. In some cases of dialysis, these torturous problems can be avoided effectively wit comprehensive measures.

"Headache And Nausea During Dialysis." Kidney Failure. N.p., 24 July 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Haemodialysis-related headache

Dialysis may induce severe headache as a result of a large amount of water and electrolyte shifts. It is important to recognize it because it can be a great problem to the patient and changing dialysis parameters or methods can prevent it. In this study we investigated the frequency and clinical characteristics of headaches occurring during haemodialysis (HD). Thirty female and 33 male patients with chronic renal failure on regular dialysis for at least 6 months in the HD unit of the Internal Medicine Department from 1996 to 2000 participated in the study. The dialysis solution contained acetate in 35 patients and bicarbonate in 28 patients. In all patients capillary dialysers and Cuprophan membranes were used and every session of dialysis lasted 4 h. All patients received the same questionnaire and they were visited randomly. Dialysis headache (DH) diagnosis was made according to the criteria of the International Headache Society. Patients with primary headache and under drug treatment during HD, which can cause headache, were excluded from the study. The frequency of DH, its relation to gender, age, dialysis technique and parameters and its features were investigated. DH was detected in 48% (n = 30) of the study group. Compared with dialysis solutions, no difference was found between patients with and without DH. The difference in the pre- and post-dialysis value of urea in patients with DH was statistically significant (P < 0.05). Patients with DH showed significantly higher mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure predialysis values in comparison with patients without DH (systolic, P < 0.001; diastolic, P < 0.01), whereas post-treatment values did not differ between the two groups. Fronto-temporal location, moderate severity, throbbing quality and short duration (

Göksan, B., Karaali-Savrun, F., Ertan, S., & Savrun, M. (2004, April). Haemodialysis-related headache. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from

Case-control study of regular analgesic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory use and end-stage renal disease

Studies on the association between the long-term use of aspirin and other analgesic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have given conflicting results. In order to examine this association, a case-control study with incident cases of ESRD was carried out.

The cases were all patients entering the local dialysis program because of ESRD in the study area between June 1, 1995 and November 30, 1997. They were classified according to the underlying disease, which had presumably led them to ESRD. Controls were patients admitted to the same hospitals from where the cases arose, also matched by age and sex. Odds ratios were calculated using a conditional logistic model, including potential confounding factors, both for the whole study population and for the various underlying diseases.

Five hundred and eighty-three cases and 1190 controls were included in the analysis. Long-term use of any analgesic was associated with an overall odds ratio of 1.22 (95% CI, 0.89–1.66). For specific groups of drugs, the risks were 1.56 (1.05–2.30) for aspirin, 1.03 (0.60–1.76) for pyrazolones, 0.80 (0.39–1.63) for paracetamol, and 0.94 (0.57–1.56) for nonaspirin NSAIDs. The risk of ESRD associated with aspirin was related to the cumulated dose and duration of use, and it was particularly high among the subset of patients with vascular nephropathy as underlying disease [2.35 (1.17–4.72)].

Case-control study of regular analgesic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory use and end-stage renal disease; Ibeiez, Luisa et al., Kidney International, Volume 67, Issue 6, 2393 - 2398

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