What is peritonitis from peritoneal dialysis?

Peritonitis from peritoneal dialysis: Overview

Peritonitis is an infection of the lining of the belly (peritoneum). It causes pain and swelling inside the belly. It may also cause a fever. The infection is serious and needs to be treated.

This type of infection can happen in people who use peritoneal dialysis (PD). PD uses a dialysis fluid and the lining of the belly to filter toxins from the blood. The fluid enters and leaves the belly through a soft tube, or catheter. The place where the catheter comes out of your body is the dialysis access. You may get peritonitis if the catheter is not kept clean. You can also get it if the area around the access is not clean.

Your doctor will give you antibiotics to treat the infection. If you use PD and the infection is minor, the antibiotics may be added to the dialysis fluid. The doctor may give you a new access while the old one heals. Or you may start using hemodialysis instead of PD. Hemodialysis uses a machine instead of the lining of the belly to filter waste from the blood.

What are the symptoms of peritonitis from peritoneal dialysis (PD)?

Symptoms of peritonitis include:

  • Swelling of the belly, which may feel hard (rigid).
  • Severe pain and tenderness in the belly.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dialysis fluid that is cloudy or changes color.
  • Pus draining from the access site.

How is peritonitis from peritoneal dialysis (PD) treated?

Your doctor may test your dialysis fluid. The test can help find the cause of your symptoms. And it can help your doctor decide which medicines will work best to treat the infection.

Your doctor will give you antibiotics to treat the infection. If you use peritoneal dialysis and the infection is minor, the medicine may be added to the dialysis fluid.

Your dialysis team may decide to change the way you do dialysis. The doctor may give you a new access while the old one heals. Or, instead of peritoneal dialysis, you may start using hemodialysis. It uses a machine instead of the lining of the belly to filter waste from the blood.

How can you prevent peritonitis from peritoneal dialysis (PD)?

Take these steps to help prevent peritonitis.

  • Keep your access clean and dry. Check it every day for signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the access site.
    • Pus draining from the access site.
  • Keep the end of your catheter covered when it is not in use.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before you touch your catheter.
  • Avoid swimming and bathing unless your dialysis team has told you it is okay. Always clean and dry your catheter and access right away after you get wet.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for showering.

What is peritonitis from peritoneal dialysis (PD)?

Peritonitis is an infection of the lining of the belly (peritoneum). It causes pain and swelling inside the belly. It may also cause a fever.

This infection can happen in people who use peritoneal dialysis (PD). PD uses a dialysis fluid and the lining of the belly to filter toxins from the blood. The fluid enters and leaves the belly through a soft tube called a catheter. The place where the catheter comes out of your body is called the dialysis access. You may get peritonitis if the catheter is not kept clean. You can also get it if the area around the access is not clean, even if you can't see any infection.

This infection is serious. Even if your symptoms are mild, you need medical care right away. Without treatment, the illness gets worse fast and can be life-threatening.

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