February 01, 2022
Whether you have been diagnosed with kidney disease recently, have kidney failure, or are trying to care for a loved one; deciding on treatments for kidney disease can be one of the most important decisions someone can make (potentially even the MOST important). This article will equip you to make or help make the treatment decision that best suits your health goals and lifestyle.
In this guide, we will explain Dialysis in plain language, as it is an option that many patients with Kidney disease/kidney failure opt for. Other alternative treatments are receiving a kidney transplant or conservative kidney management. However, in this guide, we will specifically discuss what dialysis is, as well as what the treatment options for receiving dialysis are like.
For a more detailed explanation of each dialysis treatment option, dialysis lifestyle blogs, and other resources for living life to the fullest while on dialysis, click the link below.
Dialysis, defined most simply, is the name for clinical purification of the blood as a substitute for the normal function of the kidney. Dialysis is a treatment that is reserved for those who have limited or little-to-no kidney function and helps perform part of the function of the kidneys when they can no longer do so naturally (National Kidney Foundation)
Dialysis does some of the things done by healthy kidneys, such as filter your blood, but it is not a perfect substitute nor does it cure kidney disease. As a result of this, most people on dialysis will need to have treatments for their entire life, unless they are able to get a kidney transplant. Regular dialysis is needed when your own kidneys can no longer take care of your body's needs.
When your kidneys fail, dialysis keeps your body in balance by removing waste, salt, and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body; keeping a safe level of certain electrolytes in your blood, such as potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate; and helping to control blood pressure to name a few.
There are two major types of dialysis treatment, and the first type of Dialysis we will be briefly discussing is Hemodialysis.
Hemodialysis is a procedure where a dialysis machine and a special filter called an artificial kidney, or a dialyzer, are used to clean your blood. The dialyzer, or filter, has two parts: one for your blood and one for a washing fluid called dialysate. Dialysate, also called dialysis fluid, dialysis solution, or bath; is a solution of pure water, electrolytes, and salts, such as bicarbonate and sodium. The purpose of dialysate is to pull toxins from the blood into the dialysate. (ClevelandClinic.Org)
The way this works is through a process called diffusion. This process of diffusion happens in the dialyzer where a thin membrane separates these two previously mentioned parts (blood and dialysate). In diffusion, blood cells, protein, and other important components remain in your blood because they are too big to pass through the membrane. Likewise, smaller waste products in the blood, such as urea, creatinine, potassium, and extra fluid pass through the membrane and are washed away by the dialysate.
This may all sound a little overwhelming in technical terms, but we promise it is not too complicated. To put it simply, hemodialysis is a process where your blood is filtered and purified outside the body through a special machine called a dialyzer, rather than internally through your kidneys. This type of dialysis is typically done at a dialysis clinic or hospital about 3 days a week.
These dialysis treatments performed in a clinic or hospital, typically last about 4 hours, and a nurse or dialysis technician will set up and perform the dialysis treatment. In some cases, hemodialysis can even be done at home. The difference for at-home hemodialysis treatment is instead of making 3 trips to a clinic each week, the patient instead undergoes treatment at home 4 - 7 times a week for shorter durations (typically only a couple of hours).
One thing we must note is that there can be special requirements to be able to do hemodialysis at home, so before you decide on which method is right for you, make sure you talk with your doctor and read more about hemodialysis to figure out which treatments are available and recommended for you.
The other method of dialysis that serves as an alternative to hemodialysis is peritoneal dialysis.
So how does it work? During peritoneal dialysis, a cleansing fluid (dialysate) flows through a tube (catheter) into part of your abdomen. The lining of your abdomen (peritoneum) acts as a filter and removes waste products from your blood. (Fresnius Kidney Care)
The dialysate fluid that flows into your abdomen stays there for a prescribed period of time (also called dwell time) — which usually amounts to four to six hours. After this dwell time, the fluid (dialysate) with the filtered waste products flows out of your abdomen into a sterile collection bag and is discarded.
The process of filling and emptying the abdomen is called an exchange. There are two main cycles of exchange: Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) and Continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD).
In CAPD peritoneal dialysis you may need three to five exchanges during the day and one with a longer dwell time while you sleep. You can do these exchanges at home, work, or any clean place and you're free to go about your normal activities while the dialysate dwells in your abdomen.
With CCPD you must remain attached to the machine for about 10 to 12 hours at night. You aren't connected to the machine at all during the day, but in the morning you begin one exchange with a dwell time that lasts the entire day.
Choosing a dialysis treatment is an important decision and we believe it is one that needs to be well thought out with all options considered. We also realize that it can be a difficult and overwhelming process. It is for this reason that we put this article and many others together to help patients dealing with dialysis or the prospect thereof.
Here at STITCHES, we are a family of doctors who understands what it is like to give and receive treatment for major medical conditions. We have made it our mission to help patients all across the country and the world undergo treatment with the most knowledge, dignity, and comfort possible. A major part of this is choosing the correct treatment for you, but also being equipped to undergo that treatment while maintaining your activities of daily living.
Check out more of our Dialysis resources: https://stitchesmedical.com/blogs/news/tagged/dialysis
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