Dialysis is a treatment required for people whose kidneys have started malfunctioning. When kidneys fail, they do not filter the blood the way it should be done. Consequently, toxins and wastes accumulate in your bloodstream.

Dialysis performs your kidney function of excreting excess fluid and waste products from the body. Hence, dialysis is required by patients whose kidneys do not function naturally.

When is dialysis necessary?

People having a kidney breakdown or suffering from the end-stage renal disease may require dialysis. Some other conditions like lupus, diabetes and high blood pressure can damage kidneys leading to kidney disorder. Someone with GFR

When did dialysis originate?

Dialysis treatment first began in 1960 and has been continuing to date as a standard treatment everywhere. The two types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis have existed since the mid-1940s. The CAPD type began in 1976 with numerous patients benefiting from the treatment.

What is the function of dialysis?

When the kidney functions abnormally from its usual function, dialysis substitutes  the kidney functions. Dialysis helps control blood pressure and removes extra salt, waste, and water from the body. It also keeps certain chemicals like sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate at safe levels in the blood. 

Is kidney damage reversible?

In some cases it is. For some kinds of acute renal failure, dialysis may be required for a short time to recover. In a chronic or end-stage kidney failure, kidneys do not show any improvement, and dialysis may be needed  lifelong. 

Where is dialysis treatment done?

Dialysis is done in a hospital which has a dialysis unit.

How long can you survive on dialysis?

If you suffer from permanent kidney failure, then you will need dialysis for the rest of your life until you get a kidney transplant. Life expectancy for people on dialysis differs according to their medical conditions and how well they follow the treatment process. The average life expectancy for patients on dialysis is usually five to ten years, but there are instances where patients have had a good life for twenty to thirty years on dialysis. You can consult your healthcare professional on how to stay healthy, and take care of yourself during dialysis.

What are the types of dialysis?

There are two types of dialysis,

      Hemodialysis

      Peritoneal

What is hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis involves an artificial kidney to remove extra fluid, chemicals, and waste from your blood. To pass your blood through the artificial kidney, the doctor will create access to your blood vessels by a minor surgery on your  arm or wrist.

In some instances, it is accessed by joining an artery to a vein under your skin to create a big blood vessel called a fistula. If the blood vessels in a fistula seem inadequate, the doctor will use a soft plastic tube to join an artery to the vein under the skin, known as a graft. At times, it is accessed with the help of a catheter inserted into a large vein in your neck. This may be temporary, but also can be used for long-term treatments.

What is the duration of a hemodialysis treatment session?

Generally, each session of hemodialysis treatment lasts for about 2-3 hours, done three times a week. The time required for a dialysis session depends on how well your kidney works, fluid accumulated between treatments, waste products in your body, your physique, and the type of the artificial kidney used.

What is peritoneal dialysis? How does it work?

This type of dialysis treatment involves cleaning blood inside your body. There are two types of peritoneal dialysis. The doctor performs minor surgery to insert a small tube called a catheter inside your abdomen to create an entry. A fluid called dialysate is filled in the abdominal cavity through the catheter and is kept for a few hours. There is exchange of the dialysate fluid (clean)  and the waste fluid across the peritoneal layer.This waste fluid which is extracted from the body is let out through the catheter and discarded.

What are the types of peritoneal dialysis? How does it work?

There are many types of peritoneal dialysis. The two important ones are,

      Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD)

      Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD)

Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) is done without using machines. You can get the procedure done by yourself four to five times a day at home or your workplace. Here, you need to put about two quarts of dialysate into your peritoneal cavity through the catheter. The dialysate is then rested for about four to five hours before it gets unloaded back into the bag and discarded. This process is called an exchange, and you are required to use a new bag of dialysate every time you do an exchange. You can continue with your normal home or work activities while you are at this procedure.

Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) is done at home using a machine called a cycler. The process is similar to CAPD except for the number of exchanges that happen. Each cycle lasts for one to one and a half hours and the exchange keeps happening the whole night during sleep.

Does dialysis restore kidney disorder?

Dialysis only performs the functions of a healthy kidney but does not cure your kidney problem. Once you are prescribed dialysis, you will require it for your whole life unless you opt for a kidney transplant.

Does dialysis feel very uncomfortable?

There may be slight discomfort when the needles are inserted into your graft or fistula. Apart from this, there may not be another problem as the treatment is painless. In some cases, there may be a drop in blood pressure and can have cramps, headaches, nausea, or vomiting. This may even disappear with frequent dialysis sessions.

Is dialysis treatment expensive?

Yes, dialysis treatment does cost you. However, the treatment costs vary from place to place. The cost is also different for hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

How do dialysis patients feel after a treatment?

Most of the patients live normal lives except during the dialysis sessions. Dialysis makes you feel better as it avoids experiencing many complications caused by kidney failure. Most importantly, it’s you and your family who will need some time to get used to the dialysis procedure.

Can patients on dialysis travel?

You can travel to places where there are dialysis centers as it is a standard treatment. You are required to make an appointment and consult a professional at the center before you start.

How can patients on dialysis control their diet?

You will be put on a special diet if required. There may be restrictions on the things you need to consume and limit liquid intake. The diet plan will be issued according to the dialysis you are taking.

Can dialysis patients continue normal work?

Patients can continue with their work once they get used to dialysis. However it will be difficult to carry on with heavy physical work.

Misconception about dialysis- Once I start on dialysis it cannot be stopped.

It is a common misconception. If the kidney injury is reversible and mild, dialysis is done on a short term basis and can be stopped. However if the kidney damage is permanent, then dialysis has to done on a permanent basis. In this condition, dialysis can be stopped anytime but the symptoms of kidney disease will come back after stopping it. So stopping or not stopping dialysis depends upon the kidney damage and has nothing to do with dialysis itself.


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