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The most common types of medicines that patients on PD need to take are:

  1. Phosphate binders to reduce bone disease
  2. Iron, and Erythropoietin to reduce anaemia (low blood count)
  3. Anti-hypertensive medicines to control high blood pressure
  4. Laxatives to prevent constipation

Phosphate binders

When the kidneys are working properly they get rid of excess phosphate from the body. Phosphate, which is found in dairy products, nuts and meat, is needed to keep bones healthy. If phosphate levels become too high in kidney failure this can damage bones and blood vessels. Medications taken before meals can bind with phosphate in the food you eat so that the phosphate is not absorbed into the body and the level in the blood becomes lower. There are several different types of phosphate binder medication, your doctor and renal dietitian will be able to discuss which one might suit you best. GoTo kidney medications

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Iron and Erythropoietin

Healthy kidneys produce a substance called Erythropoietin (known as EPO for short). EPO is used in the bone marrow to help produce red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body and, if the level is low, it is called anaemia. There are several different types of synthetic EPO, called Erythropoeisis Stimulating Agents (ESA). An ESA is injected into the body (using a small needle) and helps produce red blood cells. People on ESA will use up Iron quickly making red blood cells, and they may need an iron supplement. This can be given by tablet (eg Ferrous sulphate or Pregaday) or by injection. GoTo kidney medications

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Anti-hypertensive medicines

High blood pressure (hypertension) is fairly common in people with kidney problems. Blood pressure is affected by the amount of fluid in the body as well as the width of the vessels (arteries) that the blood flows through. It is therefore important for people on PD to control the level of fluid in their blood. This is done by balancing what fluid goes in with what comes out. Often one or more medications are needed to control blood pressure. GoTo drugs section

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Constipation causes drainage problems on PD and it is therefore important to avoid becoming constipated. Lactulose is a liquid, which can be taken daily to prevent constipation: it works by softening the faeces in the bowel. Senokot (senna) can also be used daily to prevent constipation: it works by stimulating the bowel to move. Both drugs can cause stomach cramps in some people. It is important to let the pharmacist know that you are on dialysis if you are buying other laxatives, as some are not suitable for people with kidney failure.

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The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.

NKF Controlled Document No. 243: medicines written: 26/01/2001 last reviewed: 20/10/2017