Kidney Dialysis & COVID-19

Last updated: March 30

People with kidney disease and other chronic medical problems are more likely to have serious complications after contracting COVID-19 when compared to the general population. Your physician can review your medical record to give you a greater understanding of your personal risk.

Here are answers to some common questions related to kidney dialysis and COVID-19. Please note that these answers are subject to change as we receive more information about COVID-19. If you have additional questions not answered here, call your physician or the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 312.47.COVID (312.472.6843).

Frequently Asked Questions

People who have kidney disease do not appear to be more likely to contract COVID-19. However, they are more likely to have serious complications. Experts believe that the more underlying health conditions a person has, the higher their chance of having serious complications from COVID-19.

Yes, you should continue to receive your dialysis treatments to maintain your kidney health. Call your dialysis unit if you have questions about your dialysis. Do not stop dialysis if you are feeling unwell.

You should try to distance yourself from people, if possible. Wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before you start your treatment and when you leave. At all times, avoid touching your face.

Every dialysis center has its own regulations regarding protective protocols for their patients. Please contact your center if you have questions about its protocols.

As far as we know, patients on dialysis have the same symptoms as patients who are not on dialysis. They most often experience fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. Because patients on dialysis may have different core body temperatures than the general population, it is important to know your normal baseline body temperature so you can determine if you have a fever.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call your physician for guidance.

Keep at least a 2-week supply of your medications and contact your physician if you need refills. To refill your prescription, you can limit exposure to the virus by using a mail-order service or drive-thru pharmacy, or have a caregiver pick up your medication.

Physicians recommend that people with kidney disease adhere to the recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing extreme physical distancing and hand hygiene. You should also exercise, eat well, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep.

If you have been exposed to someone who received a COVID-19 diagnosis, please call your primary care provider and your dialysis clinic provider for guidance.

If you normally receive dialysis at home, please reach out to your physician to learn more about special precautions that may apply to you.