The major function of kidneys is to eliminate the waste products and excessive fluids from the human body through the urine in order to maintain the stability of the body chemicals. So, when the kidneys are able to perform only 10% to 15% of their typical functional ability, the condition is declared as an end-stage of kidney failure. This is where ‘dialysis’ comes into play and it has been in use since the 1940s in order to treat patients with their kidney problems. Read on to know more about the various dimensions of this concept ‘dialysis’ and understand everything you must know about the procedure.
Why is Dialysis Used?
Kidneys with proper functioning power prevent excessive waste, water, and several other impurities which accumulate in a human body. They also aid in controlling the blood pressure levels and regulating the chemical levels in the bloodstream. These elements could comprise potassium and sodium. The kidneys generally even lead to the activation of a particular form of Vitamin D which improvises on the absorption of calcium.
When you kidneys fail to perform these basic functions because of an injury or a disease, ‘dialysis’ comes to the rescue. They help the kidneys to perform their basic functionalities as normally as possible. Without dialysis, the waste products or salts will end up accumulating in the bloodstream, thereby poisoning the body, and damaging the other organs.
However, dialysis is a procedure which may not be a cure to kidney-related diseases or conditions but it is a treatment which helps it continue its functioning normally.
This treatment procedure can be financially draining and that’s where a top-up health insurance plan can come to your rescue to provide you coverage against the financial expenses that may arise during your treatment procedure.
Types of Dialysis
Here are the three different kinds of dialysis:
This is the most common type of dialysis which utilises hemodialyser which is an artificial kidney in order to remove the excessive amount of fluids and waste products from the bloodstream. This blood is filtered out from the body through the hemodialyzer. This blood which is filtered then returns to the body through the dialysis machine. In order to get the blood flowing to the hemodialyser, your respective doctor will perform a surgery in order to form a vascular access or an entrance point into your blood vessels. Following are the three kinds of vascular accesses:
- Arteriovenous Fistula: This type of vascular access connects a vein with an artery.
- Arteriovenous Graft: This type of vascular access is a looped tube.
- Vascular Access Catheter: This type of entrance point could be inserted into a vein in your neck which is large.
Both the AV Graft and Fistula have been designed in order to perform long-term dialysis treatments. Patients who get the AV fistulas done are usually healed and are ready to start the process of hemodialysis about two or three months post their surgery. Those who get the AV grafts are ready for it within two or three weeks. The catheters are designed for temporary or short-term usage. This treatment usually lasts for about 3-5 hours and is performed on an average of 3 times a week. However, this treatment could be completed within more frequent and shorter duration sessions.
Most of the hemodialysis treatments are generally performed at the doctor’s office, hospital, or a dialysis centre. The longevity of the treatment is dependent on the patient’s body’s size, the amount of waste in their body, and their health state currently. After having been gone for hemodialysis for a longer duration, your doctor might feel that you can get your dialysis treatments done at home. This option is generally available for people who may require long-term hemodialysis treatments.
2. Peritoneal Dialysis
This dialysis comprises surgeries in order to implant a PD or peritoneal dialysis catheter into your abdomen. It aids the process of filtering your blood through a membrane in your abdomen which is also known as peritoneum. During this treatment, dialysate, a special type of fluid which flows into your abdomen’s membrane and it absorbs the wastes. Once it expels the dialysate out of your bloodstream, it is drained out of your abdomen as well. This process lasts for a couple of hours and must be repeated at least 4 to 6 times every day. However, the fluid exchange could be performed whether you are awake or asleep.
There are several kinds of peritoneal dialysis. They are as follows:
- Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD): In this method, your abdomen is drained and filled several times every day. This method doesn’t necessarily require a specific machine and should be performed while the patient is awake.
- Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD): This utilises a machine in order to cycle the fluids inside and outside of your abdomen, usually at night when you are asleep.
- Intermittent Peritoneal Dialysis (IPD): This treatment is generally performed in the hospital, even though it could be performed at the patient’s home as well. It utilises the same machine as CCPD, however, the procedure takes longer.
3. Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)
This kind of therapy, also known as hemofiltration, is primarily utilised in the intensive care unit for the patients who suffer from an acute kidney failure. A machine is usually passed through tubing in the blood. The excessive water and the waste products are then removed by a filter. The filtered blood is then returned to the bloodstream, in addition to the replacement fluid. This process is performed for about 12-24 hours per day, usually everyday.
Risks Associated with Dialysis
All the three forms of dialysis have been designed in order to save your life, however, they may be accompanied by some risks as well. Read further to know more about the risks associated with the different types of dialysis.
Risks associated with hemodialysis
The risks associated with hemodialysis comprise the following:
- Muscle cramping
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sudden death due to cardiac diseases
Risks associated with peritoneal dialysis
The risks associated with peritoneal dialysis are as follows:
- Weight gain
- Stomach pain
Risks associated with CRRT
The risks associated with CRRT comprise the following:
- Electrolyte disturbances
- Low blood pressure
- Weakening of bones
- Delayed renal recovery
If the above mentioned symptoms persist while going through dialysis, the healthcare provider must perform the treatment. Patients who have to undergo the long-term dialysis treatments, are at a risk of developing several other kinds of medical conditions, including amyloidosis. This disease usually occurs when the amyloid proteins which are produced in the bone marrow are built up in the organs like heart, liver, and kidneys. This also results in stiffness, swelling, and joint pain. Few patients may also get diagnosed with depression after getting diagnosed with long-term kidney failures.
Alternatives to Dialysis
Since the treatment procedure of dialysis is expensive and time-consuming, most people don’t really opt for it, especially if they experience acute, severe kidney failure. If you decide on not getting dialysis done, there are several other options which you can choose from in order to facilitate the management of your symptoms, one of them being anaemia management. When the kidneys function properly, the erythropoietin (EPO) gets produced in the body of the patient naturally. In order to provide help with a kidney which is under-functioning, you can also get an EPO injection on a weekly basis.
The deterioration of your kidneys can be slowed down by maintaining good blood pressure levels. You must also avoid dehydration by drinking enough fluids. You must consult with your doctor prior to taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as diclofenac and ibuprofen. You can also opt for kidney transplant which is a long-term commitment. You must consult with your doctor in order to be sure whether the kidney transplant is suitable for you or not. It must be noted that if you smoke, are obese, heavily use alcohol, and are diagnosed with mental health diseases which are not treated, you may not be a very good candidate for the transplant.
Treatment for Dialysis Side Effects
Several side effects of the treatments for dialysis comprise certain heart related conditions and low blood pressure levels, and they take place due to the nutrient imbalances during the procedure. Maintaining a healthy diet can be helpful. Few others are as follows:
- If you check your access site more often, it will help you mitigate the infection risks.
- If you get enough physical exercise, you can reduce weight which can ultimately help you deal with the side effects.
- If you keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, you can control the side effects.
When you suffer with the following symptoms after getting the dialysis treatment done, you must call your doctor:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever beyond 101 degree Fahrenheit
- Pain, swelling of limbs, redness
- Lack of focus
- Loss of consciousness
These symptoms could be associated with blood clots, hypotension, severe infection, and hyperglycemia and may need immediate treatment.
The most common side effects have been discussed throughout this article. You must report if you experience any of the symptoms during your dialysis treatment to get immediate help. This will help you manage and deal with these symptoms and hence, maximize the benefits of getting the treatment done.