Categories: Nephrology

All you need to know about Dialysis

Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that help clear and filter the blood from toxins, excess fluids and waste in the form of urine and support overall fluid and mineral balance in the blood. In case of kidney failure, these functions are no longer performed by kidneys and if left untreated, this will be life-threatening.

Dialysis is a treatment required when you develop end-stage kidney failure. In kidney failure, your kidneys do not carry the regular body functioning.

Dialysis keeps your body in balance by:

  • Removing toxins, waste, salt & excess water from the body
  • Maintaining the balance of certain chemicals like potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate
  • Keeping blood pressure in control

Symptoms of Kidney Failure

  • Possible symptoms of kidney failure include:
  • Reduce in urine production
  • Swelling in ankle, legs, feet
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Persistent Nausea and many more

What are the different types of dialysis?

There are two kinds of dialysis – hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

  • Hemodialysis is a type of dialysis where an artificial kidney (called hemodialyzer) helps to remove toxic, water & excess fluid from the blood. For this, the doctor needs to do a small surgery in either leg or arm, to get access to your blood vessels. Sometimes, the access is also made by joining an artery to a vein under the skin called the fistula. In the case where the fistula is not made, the doctor uses a plastic tube to complete the process called the graft.
  • Peritoneal Dialysis is a type of dialysis where your blood gets cleaned inside your body. Here the doctor does surgery to insert a plastic tube (called catheter) to your belly and make access. Then through a catheter, the abdominal area gets filled with dialysate fluid and excess fluid and waste are then extracted out of the blood.

FAQs on dialysis

How long the hemodialysis process takes? Is it a day procedure?

A hemodialysis session lasts for 4-5 hours and 3 times a week. It’s a day procedure where you get discharged the same day.

The time taken depends upon the following factors.

  • Age
  • Kidney’s health
  • The fluid weight you gain between treatments
  • Body waste

Can dialysis cure my kidney disease?

Dialysis is only a temporary arrangement where it performs some functions of healthy kidneys, but it does not cure kidney diseases. To completely cure kidney disease, you will have to undergo dialysis treatments for life or you will have to get a kidney transplant.

Is dialysis painful?

Dialysis is pain-free treatment, but you may experience certain discomfort when the needles are being put into your fistula or graft or during the process, some patients may have a low blood pressure which may lead to temporary sicknesses like vomit, dizziness, headache or cramps.

Do I have to intake a special diet while being on hemodialysis?

Dialysis patients may need a special diet intake depending upon the type of dialysis you are undergoing. You may also have to limit your liquid intake according to your doctor’s prescription.

Can I continue to work after the hemodialysis session?

Yes, dialysis patients can return to work once they get used to the treatment. This may not apply for a job that is labor-intensive.

How long can you live on dialysis?

In the case of kidney failure, you either will have to undergo dialysis treatment for life or you will have to get a kidney transplant. Usually, the average life expectancy for a person undergoing dialysis is 5-10 years but in some cases, the life expectancy goes up to 20 years or more. This depends upon the severity of your medical condition and how well you follow your treatment plan.

Can I lead a normal life with hemodialysis?

Yes, you can lead a normal life with hemodialysis since after every session it makes you feel better as it helps reduce many problems caused by kidney failure. It only during the time of the dialysis process you might feel uncomfortable but with the time you can get used to it.

Dr. Mohammed Imran is a Consultant Nephrology at Sahyadri Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Shimoga.

Narayana Health

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