Everything You Need to Know About Dialysis

patient hand

If you or a loved one is in need of dialysis, it’s important to have as much information as possible about the treatment. This post will provide an overview of what dialysis is, how it works, and the various types of dialysis available. We’ll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each type of dialysis so that you can make an informed decision about which treatment is right for you. 

How Does It Work?

Dialysis is a treatment used to remove waste and excess fluid from the body when the kidneys can no longer perform these functions. Dialysis can be used to treat both acute and chronic kidney failure. So, to answer what is dialysis, it is essentially a process of blood filtration. It is done with people suffering from renal failure as an artificial way of carrying out the functions of the kidneys. There are three main types of dialysis: hemodialysis, nocturnal, and peritoneal dialysis. 

  • Hemodialysis: Hemodialysis is the most common type of dialysis. It is typically done three times a week for four hours at a time. The treatment can be done in a hospital, a dialysis center, or at home with the help of a trained caregiver. 
  • Peritoneal Dialysis: Peritoneal dialysis is less common than hemodialysis and is typically done four times a day for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. This type of dialysis can be done at home or while traveling. 
  • Nocturnal Dialysis: Nocturnal dialysis is a type of hemodialysis that is done overnight while the patient sleeps. It allows patients to have more flexibility in their schedule and may be better tolerated than other types of hemodialysis. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Dialysis

The benefits of dialysis include:

  • Improved quality of life: This treatment can help patients feel better and live longer.
  • More time for a kidney transplant: Dialysis can buy patients time while they wait for a kidney transplant.
doctor with stethoscope

The drawbacks of dialysis include: 

  • The cost of treatment: The cost may vary depending on the type of dialysis and how often it is needed.
  • The time commitment: Dialysis treatments can take several hours out of your day, three times a week. 
  • The side effects: Some common side effects of dialysis include low blood pressure, headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. 

Dialysis vs Transplant

The two main options for treating kidney failure are dialysis and transplant. The decision between the two will be made by you and your doctor based on many factors, including your age, health, lifestyle, and preferences. Also, keep in mind that a transplant is not always an option. A transplant requires finding a donor, which can take months or even years. Dialysis can start as soon as your kidneys fail. 

Ultimately, the decision about which type of dialysis is right for you will be made by you and your healthcare team. Be sure to discuss all of your options with your doctor so that you can make an informed decision about your care. Consider factors such as your lifestyle, work schedule, and treatment preferences when making your decision. If you have any further questions about dialysis, be sure to talk to your healthcare team. They will be able to provide you with more detailed information and answer any specific questions you may have.