Dialysis: When and what it is

Kidneys are quite important to regulate the normal functions of the human body. They work as blood filters who have the vital task of separating any type of waste, toxins, and excess of fluid from the blood, helping the boy to stay healthy. A pair of healthy kidneys will always perform an outstanding job when it comes to keeping a clean blood and producing a healthy urine. However, what happens when kidneys stop working properly?

For those who have suffered from kidney diseases, the term “Dialysis” doesn’t result odd. It is because dialysis is commonly used on patients who have kidney failure. Joe Cosgrove knows that this type of condition may occur once in your life because of some temporary health event or it may occur as the result of a long going renal disorder. Nevertheless, dialysis is more used by those who have kidney malfunction as a part of their day to day life.

For patients who are at the end stage of any kidney disease, dialysis comes as a bit of help to bring relief to their pain. However, if dialysis stops working, it is recommended for the patient to get a kidney transplant. The way doctor defines whether or not a dialysis or a transplant is necessary is based on the percentage of certain substances in the bloodstream, which may affect the regular function of the kidneys. A side effect of this change in the regular function of the kidneys may lead to muscle aches, cramps, nausea, loss of appetite, skin conditions and even lack of concentration and fatigue.

When do patients need to undergo dialysis?

Often, people believe that the only reason why someone would need to go under dialysis may be because its kidneys suddenly stopped working. Nevertheless, there are many other reasons why patients would need to undergo dialysis that is not related to kidney failure but may lead to it in time:

Excess of Fluids: When patients feel fluids are overloading in the body, and this symptom is gradually becoming worse, they should consider going to dialysis. This excess of fluids affects every part of the body, including the lungs which can fill up with fluids, making it hard to breathe.

Excess of Potassium: Potassium is a vital electrolyte that plays an important role in both the kidneys and the body in general. An overload of potassium in the bloodstream may be a symptom of kidney failure. Kidneys must get rid of this electrolyte via the urine. When this doesn’t happen potassium levels start to raise and build up in the bloodstream leading to heart diseases. Dialysis here is used to prevent heart complications by leveling down to normal the potassium levels.

Excess of Acid: Waste materials build up in the bloodstream are defined as acid loads. Having high acid levels in the blood may be a good way to figure out a patient needs to undergo dialysis urgently.

What are the different types of Dialysis?

So far we know what dialysis is and when patients need to go under treatment. But, we still haven’t defined the different types of dialysis that exist: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis: It is the most commonly used treatment for patients with kidney diseases. Patients need to go to the hospital and submit to its dialysis unit or get a dialysis system at home. Whether the procedure takes place at the hospital or at home, medical supervision is always needed since it involves connecting a tube to a vein in the arm. Treatment works by filtering the blood of the patient and returning it back to the body once it is clean. Usually, this process takes up to 4 hours and can be done 3 times every week.

Using a vein in the arm is not mandatory. What matters is to be able to fit the patient with a catheter placed in a vein with a considerable bloodstream. This means blood can be pumped from the neck, legs or arms. This type of dialysis may leave the patient a bit dizzy and with several side effect. However, once the blood pressure restores, most side effects disappear.

Related: Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis: Advantages and Disadvantages

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Image courtesy of Neon Tommy at Flickr.com

Peritoneal dialysis: This process is less frequently used. It involves injecting fluid in the abdominal lining to allow the blood to be filtered. This process can be done at home by the patient, nevertheless, it needs to take place at least 4 times every day and the catheter needs to remain inside the body for the constant fluid exchange.

This method includes fluids that are always transferred to the body through the peritoneum cavity. Fluids need to be drained out after 4 – 6 hours and once they are completely drained, a new bag of fluids will need to be used. This type of dialysis is rather simple to handle, however, it may lead to infections due to the permanence of the catheter in the skin

Related: Kidney dialysis — everything you should be aware of (Expert speak).

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