What is the treatment?
A healthy kidney has the function of filtering around 1500 liters of blood every day. If the kidneys fail to work properly, waste can accumulate in the blood. This can lead to serious health issues, resulting in coma and even death.
When the kidneys cannot function properly, a person needs to undergo dialysis to keep his/her body in balance. Dialysis performs the of your kidneys until they are functional. The process of dialysis removes waste, salt as well as the extra water, thus preventing them from accumulating in your body. It also ensures to keep certain chemicals in the blood like sodium, bicarbonate, and potassium within optimal levels. Lastly, dialysis also helps in controlling the blood pressure.
Dialysis is mainly of two types; hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, a hemodialyzer (artificial kidney) is used for removing the waste and extra chemicals from the blood. The peritoneal dialysis involves a surgery where a catheter is implanted in the stomach area, and a fluid named dialysate flows into the abdomen. This fluid draws out the waste from your abdomen after which it is drained out.
A dialysis can be done in the dialysis unit of the hospital or at your home. The doctor decides on the location based on your preferences and the status of your condition.
How is the treatment done?
There are mainly two types of dialysis treatment that a patient can undergo:
- Hemodialysis – This is the most common form of dialysis. The doctor creates an incision so that the blood can flow to the artificial kidney or the hemodialyzer. The entrance point is made by creating a small incision in the arm or the leg. It can also be done by joining one of the arteries to a vein under the skin in order to make a bigger blood vessel known as a fistula. This surgical entrance point allows a large amount of blood to flow from your body during the treatment. As a result, more blood is purified and filtered. This treatment usually lasts for three to five hours. A patient is generally required to undergo a hemodialysis thrice every week. This option generally works for people who require long-term treatment.
- Peritoneal Dialysis – This treatment involves implantation of a catheter in the area around the belly through which the fluid is administered to your body. The dialysate fluid draws out the waste from the blood, and then the waste is drained from your abdomen. Peritoneal dialysis can be further classified into two types. One is the Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis, where the abdomen is filled and drained multiple times in a day. The other is the Continuous Cycler-Assisted Peritoneal Dialysis, where a machine is used for cycling the fluid in and out of the abdomen. It is generally done at night when the patient is sleeping.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
You may need to undergo dialysis in the following conditions:
- If you are suffering from a chronic kidney disease, you may require dialysis treatment until the time you decide to go for a kidney transplant.
- Some people opt for dialysis if they come across symptoms of kidney failure like swelling, fatigue, nausea or vomiting.
- When the results of your lab tests show high levels of waste in your blood. The rise in the blood urea nitrogen level and the creatinine level are indicators of poor performance of the kidneys.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Dialysis is usually not recommended for the following people:
- Those who have some major illness apart from a damaged kidney like a heart or a lung disease
- Peripheral artery disease of the legs, where your arteries become narrower and decrease the blood flow to your legs
Are there any side effects?
Dialysis can have the following side effects:
- Weakening of the abdominal muscles
- Gaining weight
- Muscle cramping
- Difficulty in getting sleep
- High blood sugar due to the presence of dextrose (sugar) in the fluid (dialysate)
- Low blood pressure
- Increase in the blood potassium levels
- Pericarditis, a condition where the membrane around the heart gets inflamed
- Amyloidosis, if you are undergoing a long-term dialysis treatment. In this condition, the amyloid proteins that are produced in the bone marrow builds up in the liver and the kidneys. It can cause swelling, joint pain, and stiffness.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
Listed below are some of the post treatment guidelines of a dialysis patient:
- You must be careful about what you are eating and drinking. Take the advice of your doctor regarding the amount of protein, salt, and fluid that you are supposed to consume.
- Avoid smoking, drugs or the consumption of alcohol that can affect the condition of your kidneys
- Check for redness, swelling or pus at the incision site that has been made. If you see any of these signs, consult the doctor.
- Ensure that the bandage covering the catheter is dry and clean
- The person who helps with your treatment must always wash their hands properly before helping
How long does it take to recover?
The recovery time after undergoing a dialysis varies from person to person. For some it can be 2 hours, for some it is 4 to 6 hours and for few, it takes almost 12 hours to recover completely after the treatment.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
The cost of getting a hemodialysis can vary from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month. A peritoneal dialysis can cost between Rs. 18,000 to Rs. 20,000 per month.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
Dialysis can improve the condition of your kidneys and the quality of your life if the damage is in the initial stages. After a few sessions, you can stop the treatment. In the case of a chronic disorder, there is a possibility that you may need to undergo dialysis for the rest of your life.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
There are no alternatives to the treatment of dialysis.