Benefits and Disadvantages of Dialysis

When we have healthy kidneys our bodies work perfectly. Water retention is out of the table, we have healthy urine and our body simply never collects waste –at least not because of our kidneys. As the body is a machine where each part plays a vital role, a proper kidney function will also help regulate our blood pressure and mineral levels in the bloodstream. Meaning that our body will keep safe levels of different substances without the risk of intoxication.

Nevertheless, when our kidneys stop working like they should, medical intervention is needed. The most common procedure that takes place for patients with kidney disease is dialysis. This procedure helps the body perform its regular functions thanks to the artificial aid it provides. It helps our bloodstream to keep regular waste levels since it is constantly cleaning the blood and removing whatever that may accumulate in it and poison the body. Dialysis gives patients with kidney disease the chance to treat the problems that might be affecting their kidneys. However, there is more to this treatment. As any other artificial solution, it represents different benefits and disadvantages that need to be acknowledged before deciding to go with it.

In this article, Joe Cosgrove will share a list of benefits and disadvantages related to dialysis. First, the two types of dialysis will be defined and later a list of fundamental benefits and risks related to each one of them will be presented. It is important to keep in mind that any type of dialysis is meant to clean the blood and give patients the chance to have a normal life.

Hemodialysis

This is the most common type of dialysis among patients with kidney disease. A machine called a hemodialyzer operates as an artificial kidney, removing waste and harmful substances from the blood. The regular procedure includes a medical intervention where the doctor creates a vascular access to your bloodstream. This access will allow your blood to flow through your body while the dialysis treatment takes place. Having a wider access helps a larger amount of blood to be filtered and purified in one session.

Most hemodialysis treatments are done at a hospital or dialysis center and last less than five hours. Treatment sessions need to be done at least three times per week. However, sometimes shorter sessions can be done as long as they take place more frequently.

Benefits of hemodialysis

For long-term treatment, dialysis can be done at home. This means patients won’t have the need to go to the hospital three times per week but will have the chance to give themselves the dialysis treatment at home.

Another benefit associated with hemodialysis is the periodicity in which the treatment is done. Patients only need to be plugged to the artificial kidney three times per week instead of having a daily treatment. This allows them to have regular lives and activities.

If you go to the hospital for a dialysis session, you will always get help from healthcare professionals. This is ideal for patients with dementia or any physical limitation who cannot perform dialysis for themselves.

Disadvantages of hemodialysis

Patients going under the hemodialysis treatment will have for sure dietary restrictions. This means some foods will be allowed and recommended, but some others will be banned from your diet. Fluid consumption is also vital in order to have a successful dialysis treatment.

If you are not going under a long-term treatment, you will need to travel three times per week to the hospital. This can be often uncomfortable for patients.

If you need to go to the hospital three times a week this will limit your capacity to travel to another country. Usually, patients who need to get the treatment done every day don’t have the chance to have a regular life or visit other places.

There are some health conditions associated with hemodialysis as well. Low blood pressure, anemia, cramps, difficulty sleeping or depression are some of the most common side effects related to this time of dialysis that need to be kept in mind by patients.

Related: Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis

This type of dialysis involves a surgical procedure to implant a catheter into your belly area. It works in a way that a special fluid called dialysate is injected into your bloodstream through the abdominal cavity to draw waste out of the blood. Once the fluid has removed all the waste substances, it is removed from the body.

There are two different types or peritoneal dialysis which are most commonly used today. One is called Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis or CAPD and allows patients to keep a portable equipment that increases the freedom of movement for patients with renal disease. The other type is Automated peritoneal dialysis or APD, which includes a machine that needs to be kept at home but can perform the dialysis treatment at night while the patient is sleeping.

Benefits of peritoneal dialysis

The most significant benefit of peritoneal dialysis is the comfort and simple use of the dialysis equipment. It can be carried at home and doesn’t need the patient to go to the hospital in order for the dialysis to occur.

Dietary restrictions are also easier to handle compared to hemodialysis.

strict-diet

Image courtesy of Horrace at Flickr.com

Disadvantages of peritoneal dialysis

There is a high risk of getting an infection due to the abdominal implantation of the catheter.

There are some health conditions related to peritoneal dialysis. Abdominal muscle weakening, weight gain, and high blood sugar are some of the problems that may affect patients going under dialysis treatment.

One of the biggest disadvantages of peritoneal dialysis is that it needs to be carried every day. This may be uncomfortable for most patients.

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