- On November 7, 2017 /
- By davita /
- In Treatment Options
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that perform important functions such as the extraction of waste from the blood, balancing body fluids, the formation of urine, and other vital functions of the body. The kidneys are located in the upper abdominal cavity, and they sit opposite to each other on either side of the spine. Kidneys play a major role in waste excretion, water level balancing, blood pressure regulation, red blood cell regulation and acid regulation.
When kidneys lose their function due to disease or injury, dialysis treatment is used to replace the functions of the kidneys. Dialysis is used to filter and purify the blood using a machine.
The Purpose and Benefits of Dialysis
As mentioned earlier, the kidneys’ functions are vital for the proper functioning of the body. Kidneys prevent extra water, waste, and other impurities from accumulating in your body. They regulate the levels of chemicals in the body such as sodium and potassium and activate a form of vitamin D that helps improve the absorption of calcium. When the kidneys don’t function properly, dialysis helps in keeping the body running as normally as possible. Therefore, dialysis is an artificial way of cleaning the blood.
There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Hemodialysis is the most common type of dialysis. During hemodialysis, an artificial kidney known as a hemodialyzer is used to remove waste and excessive chemicals from the blood. A vascular access is created surgically by a surgeon to allow the blood to flow from the body into the dialyzer and flow back into the body once it is cleansed. Hemodialysis is conducted in a clinical setting or a dialysis center, and a patient is usually required to undergo 3 sessions lasting for 3 to 5 hours a week. So, you will have to plan your life around the dialysis sessions.
In peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is implanted in the belly area through surgery and a special fluid called a dialysate is flown into the abdomen. The dialysate draws waste out of the bloodstream and is then drained from the abdomen.
Peritoneal dialysis is usually done at home and carried out by the patients themselves. It is mainly of two types, continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis and continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis. In continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, your abdomen is filled and drained multiple times each day. Continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis, however, uses a machine to cycle the fluid in and out of your abdomen. It’s usually done at night while you sleep.
The Risks Associated with the Two Types of Dialysis
While both types of dialysis can be life-saving, and increase the quality of life of renal disease patients, they carry a few risks.
The risks associated with hemodialysis include:
- Low blood pressure
- Cramping of muscles
- Sleeping difficulties
- Skin itching
- Pericarditis i.e., an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart
Peritoneal dialysis also comes with its own set of risks such as frequent infections in or around the catheter site in the abdominal cavity, and the other risks include weakening of the abdominal muscles, high blood sugar due to the dextrose present in the dialysate, and weight gain.
If you continue to have these symptoms while undergoing dialysis, it is imperative to discuss these health problems with your nephrologist so he/she can decide on the future plan of action and refer you to another mode of treatment such as changing the type of dialysis or considering renal transplant surgery if your health allows.