A chronic kidney disease (CKD) diagnosis doesn’t have to mean doom and despair. CKD can be managed using a well-formulated treatment, lifestyle and diet plan. However, in cases where patients have end-stage kidney disease, a more aggressive approach is required.
Most doctors recommend a kidney transplant if a patient has end-stage kidney disease. It may also be suggested in cases where patients have suffered from CKD for a long time and are showing no response to medication. However, finding a kidney for transplant may prove to be a prolonged and difficult process. Dialysis has proven to be a great option for patients who are waiting for a donor. Patients are known to live comfortable lives for decades if they undergo dialysis regularly.1
Dialysis removes excess salts and water from the body and keeps it healthy. It also helps to regulate blood pressure and the level of toxic chemicals like creatinine in the blood. By opting for dialysis, patients choose a method that keeps their body functioning well while maintaining the delicate balance between various salts and water in the body.
Dialysis can be performed either in a hospital, clinic or at a dialysis centre. These days, it is also possible for dialysis to be conducted at home. Most doctors would, however, recommend that it be conducted under supervision to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient.
Dialysis is usually suggested when patients have lost over 85% of kidney function.2 The decision about when dialysis should be done is made by the nephrologist in consultation with the patient. Patients are taken through the entire process and explained the purpose, advantages and possible side-effects and risks associated with it. 3
Dialysis helps treat the symptoms of fluid and urine overload in the body. It can help some patients improve for a short while. However, in most cases of end-stage and chronic kidney disease, patients will need dialysis for life or until they find a donor.
Dialysis treatment is of two types: peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis.
- Haemodialysis: In the process of haemodialysis, a blood vessel is readied by the surgeon to make haemodialysis easier. Blood is removed from the body through this blood vessel and circulated through a machine that works like an artificial kidney. This machine removes all waste and chemicals from the body and purifies the blood. The blood purified in the machine is then sent back into the body for circulation to other parts. Typically, dialysis is needed about thrice a week, with each session taking up to 4 hours.2
- Peritoneal dialysis: Peritoneal dialysis is done within the patient’s abdomen. The doctor places a plastic tube or catheter into the body surgically. During the process of dialysis, the surgically placed catheter is used to fill the abdomen with a special fluid called dialysate. All excess fluids and waste are drawn out of the blood and into the dialysate and, thus, blood is purified.2
Patients on dialysis may feel some discomfort during the procedure but are known to experience significant relief and freedom from several symptoms of kidney disease after dialysis. It is important to pay careful attention to the diet and the special instructions prescribed by the doctor when undergoing dialysis.
Around the world, patients who have undergone dialysis have been able to work, travel and live better, fuller lives. While the process can take some time to get used to, it is well worth the effort for an improved quality of life.
- Dialysis in chronic kidney disease [Internet]. [updated 2018 Mar 8; cited 2019 Sep 24]. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK492979/
- Dialysis [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 24]. Available from: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/dialysisinfo
- Healthwise staff. Kidney Failure:When Should I Start Dialysis [Internet]. [cited 2018, October 31]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/decisionpoint/kidney-failure-when-should-i-start-dialysis/abo2705.html