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Undergoing Dialysis - What To Expect From It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Prashant C Dheerendra 91% (35 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Internal Medicine, DM - Nephrology
Nephrologist, Bangalore  •  16 years experience
Undergoing Dialysis - What To Expect From It?

The kidneys are the purifiers of the body; they help in removing the waste from the body through the urine. In those suffering from kidney diseases, the function of the kidney is affected, and so their ability to clear out waste from the body is reduced and completely lost gradually. However, waste continues to form, and therefore, such patients have to undergo dialysis, where the blood is purified through an external device.

The frequency and duration of the dialysis would depend on how effectively the kidneys are still functioning and how much waste has been formed from the time of the previous dialysis session. The person’s overall body mass index (BMI) and the water weight gained are also considered.

Once it is decided that a person’s kidneys are damaged and dialysis is required, the person has to prepare for a long-term process. The following outlines what to expect before, during, and after the dialysis sessions.

Before the session:

Since most people prefer to get it done at a dialysis centre, it is preferable to plan for it, three treatments a week on an average, with each session lasting about 4 to 4 hours.

During the session:

  1. The blood flows through the dialysis device, which acts as an artificial kidney. The sequence of events are as follows:
  2. The Weight is checked
  3. Vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and pulse are checked.
  4. The access areas are washed, and needles are used to connect these areas to the dialysis machine. Anesthesia may be used in the beginning to reduce the pain in this area.
  5. The same access areas are used for each session, and over a period of time, buttonholes are formed which is like a small tunnel.
  6. Though the session would last about 3 to 4 days, normal activities can be done, including reading, working on a laptop, watching television, or even sleeping.
  7. Once the dialysis session is complete, the tube will be removed and a dressing is placed over the site.

After the session

The same site is used each time for the dialysis, so for the first couple of sessions, there could be discomfort. There could also be nausea, diarrhoea, cramping, and headaches.
The treatment needs to be adjusted based on symptoms, so please let the doctor know if you experience any symptoms.

Call the doctor if you are facing the following:

  1. Bleeding from the access site
  2. Inflammatory signs around the site
  3. Persistent fever of over 104 degrees
  4. Numbness or weakness in the arms
  5. Confusion, drowsiness, or cognition problems

Though initially uncomfortable, once you get into the dialysis schedule, you will notice the difference of how cleansed you will feel after each session.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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