Dialysis is a medical treatment used to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood of people whose kidneys are not functioning properly. It is typically used in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who have reached end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which means their kidneys are no longer able to effectively perform their functions.
There are two main types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Hemodialysis: This is the most common type of dialysis and involves using a machine to filter the blood outside of the body. Blood is pumped from the patient’s body through a dialysis machine, where it is filtered and then returned to the body. Hemodialysis is usually done in a dialysis center and takes about 3-4 hours, three times a week.
Peritoneal dialysis: This type of dialysis uses the patient’s own peritoneal cavity (the space in the abdomen that contains the intestines) as a natural filter for waste and excess fluid. A sterile solution called dialysate is introduced into the peritoneal cavity through a catheter, where it filters waste and excess fluid. The solution is then drained out, along with the waste, and the process is repeated. Peritoneal dialysis can be done at home and is less time-consuming than hemodialysis.
Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment for people with ESRD, but it can also be physically and emotionally challenging. It is important for people undergoing dialysis to work closely with their healthcare team to manage their treatment and maintain their overall health.
Aside from filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood, dialysis can also help to control levels of certain chemicals in the blood, such as potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate. In some cases, dialysis can also help to regulate blood pressure and assist with the management of other health conditions, such as anemia and bone disease.
However, dialysis is not a cure for kidney disease and does not restore kidney function. It is a lifelong treatment that must be continued for as long as the person has ESRD unless they receive a kidney transplant.
Dialysis can cause side effects, including fatigue, muscle cramps, and low blood pressure. It can also increase the risk of infection and cause changes to the patient’s diet, fluid intake, and lifestyle. People undergoing dialysis should work closely with their healthcare team to manage these and any other side effects they may experience.
In conclusion, dialysis is a critical treatment for people with ESRD and helps to maintain their health by filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood. However, it is not a cure and can cause side effects that must be managed over the long term.