The Most Common Questions Patients Have About Dialysis

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body. Their functions are those of secreting hormones, cleaning your blood, absorbing minerals and producing urine among others. They are absolutely necessary to maintain the body’s toxin levels at normal levels, they help regulate blood pressure and even stimulate the production of red blood cells.


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As you can probably guess, the kidneys have a lot of responsibility and are organs that work under constant stress. It is expected that when organs such as these stop working like they are supposed to, the consequences are dire, as the body loses its ability to regulate the toxins that are normally cleansed by the kidneys and you begin to feel sick.

Kidney disease is the term utilized to refer to the condition by which the functions of kidneys are reduced in their efficiency or in some cases completely impaired. In cases like this, there are but a few options available for a patient to stay alive. One would be a kidney transplant, and the other would be to receive dialysis treatment. Dialysis is a treatment by which advanced machinery is used to help cover the slack left by kidneys unable to perform their functions and thus remove excess toxins from the patient’s body.

Today in Joe Cosgrove’s blog, we want to talk about some of the most common questions and concerns raised by new patients to dialysis treatment, and by the family members who want to support them during their process.

What are the different types of dialysis?

There are three primary types of dialysis. Hemodialysis and hemofiltration work similarly because they are both concerned with the cleansing of the blood directly. Blood is removed and cleaned in a machine before being pumped back into the body. The difference between both of these methods is that one uses a dialyzer solution while the other uses pressure to separate substances through a permeable membrane.

The third type of dialysis is called peritoneal dialysis and is less efficient than the former methods. In peritoneal dialysis, the blood is not directly but indirectly cleansed by pumping dialyzer into the patient’s abdomen and then removing it after the waste material has transferred to the fluid. The process is repeated several times per session.

How does dialysis work?

Dialysis is a treatment that simulates the process done by the kidneys when they are healthy by removing excess toxins from the blood and keeps the body in balance. A machine is used to extract the blood of the patient (in the case of hemodialysis) and clean it before injecting it back in. Minor surgery is necessary to create a vascular access. Vascular access is a place where the needles and tubes can be easily connected every time the patient needs to undergo the procedure. An access can be created by joining an artery and a vein together into a blood vessel called a fistula or by placing a narrow plastic tube in a large vein near the chest or neck.

In peritoneal dialysis, the blood is actually cleaned inside the body. The doctor places a catheter in the patient’s abdomen so the peritoneal cavity can be filled with fluid and thus excess toxins from the blood can be extracted from blood vessels in the abdomen that come in contact with the dialyzer that is later removed.


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Is it possible to travel?

Traveling is absolutely possible, but it requires a bit more planning that you may be used to. Dialysis can be done by the patient him or herself while traveling with no real risk. There are also many centers around the country and even worldwide that can accommodate your needs while traveling and give you all the care you need. It is imperative to plan properly and to have everything planned well in advance so you can receive the treatment you need.

Does my diet have to change?

The food you eat will depend on many factors like your current health, the stage of your particular kidney disease and the recommendations of your doctor depending on their evaluation of your specific situation. Salt, in general, is to be avoided in large quantities; the same goes for foods that contain too much phosphorus. Anything that can affect your blood pressure has to be eaten in moderation, and it is recommended to eat fewer proteins than usual, especially if you eat lots of meats and animal products.

How often do I have to undergo the treatment?

The frequency of dialysis sessions you require depends mainly on the current state of your kidneys. Some patients with a more advanced condition may require more sessions than someone whose kidneys are still performing partially. Normally, hemodialysis takes places about 3 times a week while visiting the clinic and peritoneal dialysis is usually done at home, several times during the day. As we have mentioned before, one method is more effective than the other, and that is why it requires fewer sessions.


The Best Eating Habits For Living In Dialysis

The kidneys are organs that undertake one of the most daunting tasks in all of the human body. They are in charge of balancing the acceptable levels of toxins in the body and evacuating them through the urine. The kidneys are filters that constantly clean out your blood and make sure that other systems are not affected when the amount of waste present becomes unacceptable, and that is why the function is so crucial in the overall health of the human body.

salmon-dish-food-meal-Eating Habits For Living In Dialysis

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There are many reasons why people are affected by kidney disease, and while there is a very influential source to be found in genetics and a family history with the disease, there are also other factors that can curve the propensity for renal illnesses and eating habits are one of them.

When a patient’s kidneys aren’t able to perform their function any longer, dialysis becomes a viable option to help the body regulate its toxins. Dialysis machines are contraptions that help the extraction of the blood and its subsequent cleansing inside the machine so it can later be recycled once more into the patient’s bloodstream. The process takes a few hours and it must be performed a couple of times a week at least, in order to ensure that the stress the kidneys are suffering is mitigated and the quality of life of the individual can be preserved.

Dialysis may be a procedure that one will consider extreme and pretty much the last line of defense against renal failure, but there are other ways one can avoid kidney failure or help their body be as strong as possible while undergoing dialysis so the impact of the procedure is greatly reduced.

Today in Joe Cosgrove’s Blog we want to talk about eating healthy and the positive impact it has on the advancement of the disease and the overall health of the body and the functions of the kidneys in particular.


Protein is one of the most discussed topics when it comes to healthy dieting for patients with kidney failure. The trick with protein is to know exactly how much you need to eat and to consume only the best type and the healthiest kind you can find. Protein in excess can be quite detrimental to the kidneys, as it can stress them out by making them work harder in disposing excess waste from the body, however, if you do not ingest enough proteins you will become weak, lethargic and more prone to other infections.

Protein is absolutely necessary in order to survive and to maintain your body healthy and with enough energy to heal. The best thing you can do is talk to your doctor or dietician about the amount of protein you must consume each day and review your options when it comes to protein sources. Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs are high-protein foods but there are also plenty of options for those who prefer to maintain a vegetarian diet.

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Sodium is another component that should be consumed under strict guidelines as it can raise blood pressure considerably. High blood pressure is one of the main factors that can lead to kidney failure and that is why it is so important to make sure that your blood pressure remains under control at all times. Salt is added to foods when they are processed and it is difficult sometimes to remain in control when it comes to your own intake of salts, that is why it is so recommended to buy fresh foods instead whenever possible.

Seasonings also contain excess salt sometimes, so you should be careful to check the components of everything you use when cooking because even if your main ingredients are healthy and low in sodium, you could be ruining all of your efforts by using seasoning options that are not low in sodium and salt. The rule of thumb is to stay away from everything that is processed and go for healthier options that are fresh that you can cook yourself so you have a better handle on what you are eating.

Food to limit

The amount of liquids you must ingest has to be carefully planned with your physician. Some people must drink a certain amount of fluids and your doctor will give you a good plan of what you should drink and how much you should ingest daily. Alcohol is a substance that should be limited. Your intake should not exceed more than one or two servings a day. The excess of alcohol puts a heavy strain on your liver, kidneys, and heart. Even if those organs are not all directly related, anything in the body that doesn’t work like it should ultimately make the stress placed upon the kidneys even greater than it should be.

The Most Significant Early Symptoms Of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States of America. According to the American Kidney Fund, around 31 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease and men are more likely than women to have CKD. The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, and that is why in some cases people fail to realize they have kidney problems until it’s too late. What seems to be a symptom of a different ailment ends up becoming the main health issue with many of these patients. One of the biggest problems with kidney disease is the psychological aspect that brings with it, as patients often feel like they are losing control over their life as their body doesn’t seem to respond to them, or acts in ways they aren’t familiar with.


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The kidneys are responsible for keeping the human body’s chemistry in balance, a task that truly takes a toll on these amazing organs. As resilient as they are, the kidneys often suffer due to many different reasons and eventually become overwhelmed with all the stress they must perform under.

Today in Joe Cosgrove’s Blog, we want to take the time to look at some of the most significant early signs that can let you know that you may be developing kidney disease, with the hopes that you can do something about it before treatment becomes necessary.

Changes in urine

Since the kidneys are the organs in charge of producing the urine, this byproduct will be one of the first indicators that something may be amiss. Changes in urine can be identified as those in the appearance of color and the presence of foam, and also changes in the frequency in which the patient urinates or feels the urge to do so but is unable to produce any liquid. In some cases, there may be a pain while urinating or also the presence of blood.

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath may be present in the onset of kidney disease because the fluid buildup in the body can be so severe that it can reach the lungs, something that will undoubtedly affect a patient’s breathing. Anemia or the lack of red blood cells in the organism can be another reason why patients may feel a lot of difficulty breathing.

Trouble sleeping

If kidneys stop working correctly, they amount of toxins that build up in the body will reach dangerous levels and will start affecting the organism in many ways. Patients report having trouble sleeping due to a constant feeling of discomfort that cannot be easily identified, they simply feel like they can’t sit still and have a lot of trouble resting.

Dry and itchy skin


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Dry skin and constant itching are also symptoms of excess toxin build up in the body. Bone disease is also something else that may be present when kidneys fail, and constant itching is a clear symptom of that complication. Most of this happens because kidneys are losing the ability to properly balance nutrients, toxins, and minerals in the body.

Swollen joints

Swollen joints and general swelling are a sign that the body is holding excess water because they kidneys are not able to properly regulate bodily fluids, so they stay inside the body longer than they need to be. All of this is a side effect of sodium retention, something that happens because they kidneys are failing, and as sodium is kept in the body, so is water because it is retained by the sodium itself.

Puffiness around the eyes

If the kidneys aren’t working correctly, then things like protein will start to leak into the urine or other areas of the body. This together with excess fluids being retained is going to start showing in the face of the patient as swelling of the eyelids and cheeks.

Poor appetite

Patients with kidney disease will not feel the need to eat as much as healthy individuals. This is rather significant since these patients will still continue to gain weight even as they eat less everyday. The lack of appetite happens due to excess toxin build up in the body.

Muscle cramps

Electrolyte imbalance can start to manifest in the muscle by cramping and general soreness of the area. Low-level calcium and an imbalance in phosphorous levels make it, so they body is not properly using the fluids that it retains, and that can create painful muscle cramps.

Dizziness and problem thinking clearly

Another one of the symptoms has to do with mental acuity and the ability to think clearly. The brain may not be getting enough oxygen, and that is how it starts to show. Patients with kidney failure may begin to feel dizzy and have flash episodes in which they faint or lose balance. The ability to think clearly and solve simple problems starts to diminish as the body deteriorates.