The kidney is a major organ of the body. The bean-shaped organ filters the blood by transporting waste and excess fluid to the urinary bladder for urination.
When the kidney cannot perform more than 15% of its routine functions, dialysis is usually required. Here is a complete guide on everything you need to know about dialysis treatment.
What is Dialysis?
Dialysis is a treatment that enables failed kidneys to perform their functions. The machine purifies the blood and sustains fluid and electrolyte balance.
Types of Dialysis?
There are 3 major types of dialysis.
This is the most common type of dialysis. It involves the use of an artificial kidney in purifying your blood. Before this can be done, an entry must be created (via surgery) into your blood vessels.
This entrance serves as the pathway for blood to flow to the artificial kidney. Once filtered, the blood is returned to the body via a dialysis machine. A doctor can create any of these 3 entrances depending on the length of treatment:
- Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula – connects an artery and a vein. It is designed for long-term treatment and is the most preferred type of entrance.
- AV Graft – a looped tube great for long-term dialysis treatment. This entrance should be ready for dialysis treatment within 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
- Vascular Access Catheter – usually inserted into the large vein in your neck. Best for short or temporary dialysis treatment.
2. Peritoneal Dialysis
Peritoneal dialysis requires surgery to implant a peritoneal catheter into your abdomen. This catheter filters your blood through the peritoneum (a soft membrane in your abdomen).
During treatment, a special fluid called dialysate is introduced into the peritoneum. This fluid absorbs waste from the bloodstream and is drained from your abdomen.
There are various types of peritoneal dialysis. The common ones include:
- Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) – here, your abdomen is filled with dialysate and drained multiple times per day. CAPD doesn’t require a machine and must be performed while the patient is conscious.
- Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD) – CCPD cycles the fluid in and out of your abdomen with the aid of a machine. It is best performed at night, while asleep.
- Intermittent Peritoneal Dialysis (IPD) – IPD uses the same machine as CCPD but takes longer. The procedure can be performed at home or in a hospital.
3. Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)
CCRT, also known as hemofiltration, is an intensive care unit treatment for people with acute kidney failure. The procedure also involves the passage of blood via tubing and the introduction of a filter to remove waste and excess fluid.
How Long Does Dialysis Treatment Last?
- Haemodialysis usually lasts 3 to 5 hours and should be performed three times every week. Although the treatment can be completed in shorter, more frequent sessions.
- Peritoneal Dialysis usually takes a few hours and must be repeated four to six times per day. The exchange of fluids can be performed while you’re sleeping or fully conscious.
- Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy takes up to 12 to 24 hours per. This may last for a week or more depending on when you are ready for surgery.
Is Dialysis Painful?
Dialysis is a painless procedure. However, creating an entrance, especially when needles are introduced, may cause a bit of discomfort.
Low blood pressure as a result of dialysis can also cause slight stomach upset, headache, or cramps. These symptoms are temporary and will disappear after treatment.
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Alternative Treatment For Kidney Dialysis
Dialysis is expensive and can be time-consuming. Not everyone opts for it, especially if the condition is severe or it is a case of acute kidney failure. If you are not interested in dialysis, you can opt for:
1. Anaemia Management
Erythropoietin (EPO) is produced naturally in the body when the kidney functions properly. When kidneys no longer live up to their usual strength, EPO injections may be introduced to assist their performance. This injection should be taken every week.
2. Maintaining A Good Blood Pressure
Maintaining good blood pressure can delay kidney deterioration. You can do these by drinking water regularly to avoid dehydration and taking only anti-inflammatory drugs recommended by your doctor.
3. Kidney Transplant
Although not cheap, a kidney transplant is another option you can consider. Make sure you consult your doctor before opting for this treatment because not everyone is a good candidate.
Chain smokers, alcohol addicts, overweight individuals, or people with untreated mental conditions are not good candidates for kidney transplants.
Not all renal conditions are permanent because the kidney usually repairs itself with time. Dialysis is a treatment designed to serve as your artificial kidney until normalcy returns.
However, for chronic kidney disorders, the kidneys rarely improve in terms of function. You must continue dialysis until a kidney transplant is advised by a doctor.
Living a healthy lifestyle is the safest way to avoid kidney disorders. Practice healthy living.