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Sodium Bicarbonate & End Stage Renal Disease

By Ruth Coleman

During 2004 alone, 309,269 Americans received hemodialysis as their treatment for end-stage renal disease, nearly double the number who received the treatment in 1994, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The solution used in this procedure contains glucose, various electrolytes and sodium bicarbonate. Although sodium bicarbonate is contained in the hemodialysis solution, taking an excessive amount of sodium bicarbonate, commonly called baking soda, can make a hemodialysis patient very ill.

What Is Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is a procedure people go through when they are in kidney failure or need treatment for certain kinds of poison. The responsibilities of the kidneys include filtering the blood to remove waste products, and adjusting the level of electrolytes and water to ensure that the proper amount remains within the bloodstream. The kidneys of someone in renal failure cannot do this. Thus, hemodialysis takes on this responsibility, passing blood to a machine, making the adjustment and returning the blood to the body.

Hemodialysis Solution

The solution used in hemodialysis includes calcium, glucose, sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, acetate and bicarbonate. The amount of calcium in the solution is 2.5 mEq/L, glucose is 200 mg/dL, sodium is 137 mEq/L, magnesium at 0.75 mEq/L, potassium at 2.0 mEq/L, chloride is 106 mEq/L, acetate at 4.0 mEq/L and bicarbonate at 33 mEq/L. The amount of calcium and potassium may vary depending upon the needs of the individual.

Baking Soda After Hemodialysis

In the April 2009 issue of “NDT Plus,” Dr. Yalcin Solak writes about a 54-year-old woman who underwent hemodialysis and became ill from taking baking soda for her upset stomach. She developed a disorder called metabolic alkalosis, where the pH value of the bloodstream is too alkaline or basic. In this case, her disorder happened from taking the alkaline baking soda.


The female hemodialysis patient became seriously ill after taking four to five packs of baking soda every day for a month, according to Solak. Since she was on hemodialysis because of kidney failure, her kidneys could not get rid of the extra alkaline, which then accumulated in her bloodstream. She developed hypertension and sleeping problems, and was at great risk for developing seizures, an irregular heart rhythm and cardiac arrest. Doctors corrected her condition with hemodialysis with a solution that contained bicarbonate at -8 mEq/L.

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