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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.
Symptoms of peritonitis include:
Take these steps to help prevent peritonitis.
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.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Steven J. Atlas MD, MPH - Internal Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas MD - Gastroenterology
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