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Last Updated: Jun 04, 2020
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Dialysis - Purpose, Procedure, Cost And Side Effects

About Types Procedure Signs Side effects Recovery Cost Results Alternatives Diet

What is dialysis?

Dialysis performs the function of kidneys until they are functional. It is performed when the kidneys cannot function properly, a person needs to undergo to keep their body in balance. 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, it also helps in controlling blood pressure.

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.

What are the different types of dialysis?

There are two different types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis: A hemodialyzer is used for removing the waste and extra chemicals from the blood.
  • Peritoneal dialysis: It 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.

How does dialysis work?

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.


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.

What are the signs that you need dialysis?

When the kidney stops working and the stage of kidney failure develops and you lose about 85-90 percent of your kidney then the situation comes that you need dialysis.

If you have reached the stage of Chronic Kidney disease and the kidney starts getting damaged dialysis is needed. But the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease are not visible until the kidneys are damaged, badly. These are the symptoms caused when there is a requirement for dialysis:

  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles
  • No feeling of hunger
  • Muscle cramps
  • Pain at the time of peeing
  • Not getting much urine, trouble in sleeping
  • The problem in catching your breath

Sometimes the kidney stops working suddenly thus, causing acute kidney failure. Here are the following symptoms:

  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nose bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea

If you suffer from any of these problems then you must consult your doctor.

Who needs dialysis?

You may need to undergo dialysis in the following conditions:

  • If you are suffering from chronic kidney disease, you may require treatment until the time you decide to go for a Kidney transplant.
  • Some people opt for this treatment 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 the poor performance of the kidneys.

Who is not eligible for the dialysis 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.

How long does dialysis take?

Usually dialysis is done 3 times a week and takes about 4 hours

Can kidneys start working again after dialysis?

If a person had acute kidney failure then it can get well with the process of dialysis. The kidney may also start working fine and you may not need dialysis again. But if you are suffering from chronic kidney failure then or at the end stage then dialysis becomes mandatory and is needed for the rest of your life.

What are the side effects of dialysis?

Dialysis can have the following side effects:

  • The weakening of the abdominal muscles
  • Gaining weight
  • Muscle cramping
  • Difficulty in getting sleep
  • Itching
  • High blood sugar due to the presence of dextrose in the fluid
  • Depression
  • 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 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?

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.

How long can you live on dialysis?

A person who is going through dialysis regularly than the average life expectancy of the person becomes 5-10 years but that also depends upon the medical condition of the person that he/she is getting advantage from that process. However, in some cases, the patient can live up to 20-30 years also.

How long can you live without dialysis?

If a person is on dialysis and stops getting it lives only for an average of 10 days because the dirty liquid starts accumulating inside the body.

What happens when dialysis stops working?

If dialysis stops working then the only option left is kidney transplant and if this does not work then the patient can die from this disease.

What is the most common cause of death in dialysis patients?

The most common cause of death in the dialysis patient is hyperkalemia and this situation often occurs when there are any missed dialysis or dietary indiscretion. If a person is suffering from cardiovascular disease along with kidney failure then the chance of the death of that person increases up to 10-29 times.

How much does dialysis cost in India?

The cost of getting hemodialysis can vary from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month. 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 for the rest of your life.

Alternatives to the dialysis treatment

The best and cheap alternative of dialysis is nanofiber mesh. This nanofiber mesh is made up of polyethylene-co-vinyl alcohol (EVOH), and this an absorb waste products from the blood.

What is the best drink to flush your kidneys?

Some herbal medicinal remedies include:

  • Juniper
  • Dandelion tea
  • Marshmallow root
  • Parsley
  • Ginger
  • Red clover
  • Goldenrod
  • nettles

These vitamins help in flushing kidney:

  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium

Certain foods help in the cleaning of the kidney which, include:

  • Lemon juice
  • Ginger
  • Beet juice
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Watermelon
  • Cranberry juice
  • Turmeric
  • Smoothies

Popular Questions & Answers

My mother is undergoing dialysis thrice in a week but she is getting breathing problem due to fluid accumulate in the lungs. Whether she can take dytor 2 to get rid of this.

MBBS,MD(medicine), DNB (Internal Medicine), DNB (Nephrology)
Nephrologist, Delhi
Fluid overload is a common problem in patients with kidney diseases especially those on dialysis. The best solution to this is -restriction of liquid intake- you should restrict liquid including water, milk, tea, etc roughly equal to the amount of...
1 person found this helpful

My father was around 80 years old with history of diabetes, kidney disease, smoker, prostrate issues and his blood pressure was 90/44 when we took him to shifa international hospital, h-8, islamabad, pakistan for treatment. At that time his chest was not properly working as his oxygen saturation was 80%. Instead of taking option of dialysis due to kidney issues, doctors tried to do his echo due to reason best known to them. As he was not cardia patient. He could not lay on the bed therefore doctor gave him serenace injection @2.5 mg. It is pertinent to mention that he was not taking medicine for blood pressure and he was not a patient of blood pressure. As doctors injected serenace injection @2.5 mg, he had cardiac arrest and may be died at the spot around 3: 00 pm on 24th june 2019. They in order to save them, they gave him cpr treatment for around 10 minutes and then he again had breath. He was put on ventilator in order to grab more money and he did not respond for 10 hours till 12: 40 am on 25th june 2019 and then they declared him dead. I want to know about effects of serenace during this treatment. My questions are as followed: is serenace is recommended for patients who have kidney issues, diabetic, prostrate issues and smoker for long time? Was it permissible to inject serenace in order to do echo which was actually not required? Was it necessary to inject serenace @ 2.5 which was high dose? Can they inject serenace without consulting anesthesia doctor? Is assistant consultant can take this decision without consulting consultants dealing with heart and kidney issues? They have killed our patient, what are international standards to deal with such doctors as shifa international hospital claims that they are giving international level take care to their patients? Do you allow your doctors to do same procedure for patients at your hospital?

Diabetologist, Hyderabad
"absolutely no" we do not allow its not practised in india, assistant follows whats consultant says for agitated patients for an medical procedure anaesthetists stay beside us and they take care of it.

HI, I am 70 years old male. I am undergoing dialysis for past 10 years. Can I do kidney transplantation? How will be my life style after transplantation.

DNB GENERAL SURGERY, MBBS, National Board Of Examination
General Surgeon, Mumbai
Hello sir please go through my article What is a kidney transplant? — A kidney transplant is a surgery to insert a new, healthy kidney into a person whose kidneys are diseased (figure 1). Why might I have a kidney transplant? — You might have a ki...
5 people found this helpful

Hello, I am a dialysis person. Also I have done angioplasty in year 2012 april. I am on dialysis from last 5 years. I am 33 years old Female. I want to ask can my kidney transplant operation can happens successful. I am on waiting list to get kidney donate.

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, MD - General Medicine, DNB (Nephrology)
Nephrologist, Mohali
Yes why not. Provided you are in good state of health and have good carduac functions in echo. Only thing is you will be kept at higher risk stage but operation can definitely be done.

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